Nederland top en middelmaat in kennis

Nieuws | de redactie
2 maart 2011 | Utrecht is de topregio in ons land bij de kwaliteit van het ‘menselijk kapitaal’. Nederland scoort in de Human Capital index van Europa: zeer lage jeugdwerkloosheid, hoog onderwijsniveau van de beroepsbevolking en veel hoogwaardige banen. Maar bij de cruciale R&D-aspecten bij bedrijven en patenten blijven we achter. En waaróm doet Helsinki het zo goed?

7 van de 10 Europese regio’s die het best scoren bij geringejeugdwerkloosheid zijn provincies in ons land. 3 van de 15 regio’sdie het hoogst scoren bij het aandeel van complexe banen binnen deberoepsbevolking eveneens. Utrecht staat hier op de derde plaats inde EU, meteen onder de Waalse en Vlaamse regio’s rond Brussel, maarbijvoorbeeld nog boven Oxford, Parijs, Noord Holland enHelsinki.

Bij het onderwijsniveau staan Utrecht en Noord Holland ook bijde bovenste 15 regio’s, maar blijken enkele Nederlandse regio’sopvallend laag te scoren binnen de EU. Friesland, Limburg enZeeland komen zelfs niet onder de eerste 100 en staan te midden vanzwak ontwikkelde of achterblijvende regio’s als Sachsen Anhalt,Merseyside, Henegouwen en Extramadura.

Bij de innovatie-index op basis van R&D-investeringen enpatenten staat alleen Noord Brabant nog boven de 40, zo blijkt. DeRandstadprovincies die op de andere indices zo goed scoren zijnhier middelmatig: Utrecht op 47, Zuid Holland 53 en Noord Holland72. Ook hier doen het noorden van het land en Zeeland het zwak metplaatsen tussen 135 voor Drenthe tot 166 voor Friesland.  

Amendement op beleid Barroso

De analyse van de Lisbon Council geeft een belangrijk ‘amendement’op de Europe 2020 strategie van Barroso en de zijnen. Men laat ziendat nationaal beleid voor impulsen aan kennis en innovatie zeernodig is, maar de concrete uitwerking daarvan sterk gebonden is aanregionale samenwerking en interactie. En men laat zien waarombijvoorbeeld regio’s als Stockholm en Helsinki het zo goed doen.Veel materiaal voor het kennisdebat en ‘de motie Hamer’ in onsland. “If you want success in human capital development, you willhave more chances by going directly to the local level, wherepolicy making is most direct and effective.”

“Europe 2020 is half right: it is right to focus on humancapital as a key component of European development; it is wrong toaddress the member states rather than the regions. Of Europe 2020’sfive explicit targets, four highlight explicitly human-capitalrelated goals. This makes Europe truly unique: it is the only majorglobal actor which has come out so clearly and forcefully with astrategy for future prosperity based on human-capitaldevelopment.

But the programme misses the larger point elaborated above – ifyou want success in human capital development, you will have morechances by going directly to the local level, where policy makingis most direct and effective. Therefore, we believe the Europe 2020programme should “ensure that each European Region tailors theEurope 2020 strategy to its particular situation and translates theEU goals into regional targets and trajectories.

Given the vast importance of local decisions to successfulhuman-capital policy making – and the need to ensure that flagshipnational and European initiatives like Europe 2020 are effectivelyimplemented – we believe cities and regions should appoint regionalhuman capital managers to coordinate, evangelise and implementbetter human-capital-raising policies at the local level.

Successful regions are already doing this, such as the sevenregions studied in this paper. In each of those regions and cities,this vital task was taken up by informal networks or formallyresponsible agencies, coordination groups, task forces, locallycommitted NGOs or just enthusiastic individuals who, by theiractions and agenda, have become largely self-appointed humancapital managers for their region. Should the policy of appointingregional human capital managers ever be systematized and morebroadly adopted, the human capital manager would design, developand seek to implement a human capital strategy for the region. Sucha strategy would steer and focus resources to those levers thatachieve the most, and disregard levers that are not relevant.

The kaleidoscope of coordination and prioritisation by theregional human capital manager could include: the shaping ofeducational institutions from kindergarten to adult learningtowards the needs of the regional economy, the attraction ofparticular types of industries and businesses, the fostering ofparticular types of innovation and entrepreneurship, the provisionof childcare facilities for working parents, the integration ofperipheral social groups into the labour market, and more. Byformulating and articulating a regional or local human capitalstrategy, the human capital manager will identify a few criticaltargets against which the public can hold him or her or all otherdecision makers in the region to account.”

Het Finse succes nader verklaard

Waarom doet Finland, in het bijzonder de ‘Randstad rondHelsinki’het zo goed als kenniscentrum en knoopunt van menselijkkapitaal? De studie van de Lisbon Council geeft duidelijkeargumenten. Langstudeerboetes of andere rendementsdrukmiddelen zijnniet erg Fins, zo blijkt. “The number of graduates pursuing PhD’shas doubled since 1994 (from 315 in 1994 to 671 in 2009). Localsattribute this to the following factors:

Lack of time limits. Traditionally,there were no time limits set for students to complete a PhD inFinland. There was also a lack of monitoring of dissertationresearch. This meant students who could not devote the majority oftheir time to studies were able to passively pursue a degreewithout the pressure of finishing within a certain number of yearsor showing progress in their research. Thus, part-time studentsentered and remained in the educational system while new studentsadded to their numbers.

Students received lifetime status as PhD students until theirstudies were completed. Maintaining status was very easy – evenwhen not actively researching. During the past 4-5 years, therehave been some attempted changes (e.g. a tracking system thatmonitored students’ progresses). “The aim is to finish in fouryears with a full-time study,” says Dr. Kirsi Phylato, seniorresearcher at the Research and Development Center for HigherEducation.

Absence of monetary obligations.Introduction of tuition fees has recently been discussed, but wasopposed by students and student unions. The low cost of educationreduces barriers to entry and increases the number of students whocan afford to pursue a PhD. Says Anna Parpala, project manager atthe Centre for Research and Development of Higher Education: “Areason that explains Finland’s high number of PhD students is theabsence of time limits and fees.”

Education as a cultural and societalpriority. More than one interviewee mentioned thatthe pursuit of higher education is revered in Finnish society. Tothat end, the Ministry of Education set targets for PhDs and gave ahigher weight to PhDs when determining how to distribute governmentfunding. Universities responded by increasing the number of PhDprogrammes offered. “In the last 10-15 years, the Ministry ofEducation has given substantial resources to universities toincrease the number of PhD students and has decided the exactamount of PhDs to reach in each discipline,” says Ulla MaijaForsberg, vice rector at the University of Helsinki. Locals alsoexpressed the importance of maximising the productivity and qualityof the country’s inputs – essentially, making the most out ofavailable resources.

Market value and job security. PhDholders in Finland are not restricted to careers in research atuniversities, but are commonly employed in the private sector. Thedemand for PhD graduates is evident in that firms such as Nokiahave formed their own programmes and few graduates remainunemployed after receiving their degree. “There is almost nounemployment among PhD graduates – around 1%. Researchers are quitecommonly used as experts and consultants in different fields,” saysDr. Kirsi Pyhalto senior researcher at the Research and DevelopmentCenter for Higher Education.

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