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Bridge the Gap! How to attract and retain technical talents

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

There is a shortage of technically educated professionals, because: 1) it is difficult to attract students for technical degrees 2) many students drop-out during their studies, 3) a high proportion of students who completed a technical degree chooses to work in a non-technical field, and 4) retention of  technical professionals is low compared to other sectors. Thus, there is a “gap” between demand for skilled technical professionals and available technical professionals. More research is needed to understand why it is difficult to attract and retain technical talent for study and work.

The research team Bridge the Gap! studies what crucial experiences and environmental factors affect how technical students and professional develop their professional identity and how this affects their career choices. Furthermore, the team develops tools and interventions that help technical talent with the development of their professional identity, which, in turn, can help them to make deliberate and appropriate study and career choices. Currently, six sub projects are running to increase our understanding of how we can bridge the gap. On the 1st of July a Bridge the Gap! conference is held on how to attract and retain technical professionals to which you are invited!

Drop-out in first year students

Why do many students in technical studies drop-out in their first year? Together with 14 technical study programmes at the UT and Saxion, we aim to get insight in this question. Students participated in this research at the start of their study, after six months and after a year. This way, we could disentangle what characterizes students who drop-out and offer advice on how to reduce drop-out.

Student’s study well-being in COVID-19 times

Worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has an enormous impact on students. Not only may students experience loneliness, also their study well-being (e.g., study satisfaction, confidence in one’s own study skills) may decrease and their drop-out rates may increase. In this study, we examine the study well-being of Dutch students during the COVID-19 pandemic, which students are especially at risk of experiencing poor study well-being as a result of the pandemic and examine protective factors that can help students to get back on their feet.

Optimal Onboarding of New Technical Talent

How can technical companies ensure that newcomers want to stay with their company? In an intensive study, we followed 159 technical newly hired employees, who filled out a daily/weekly app and answered questions about their daily interactions and experiences at the workplace. This way, we aimed to get insight in what experiences help newcomers to feel at home and what companies can do to retain a diverse group of technical talent.  Read more here.

The Career Compass & Feedback tool

Our team developed a digital tool for technical students and employees that provides insight in the professional identity of technical professionals. It measures one’s goals, interests, personality, values, and competencies. There are 5 recognizable profiles of technical professionals that are related to the career choices and attitudes towards learning and career development. With our feedback tool, participants get support in the development of their talents and ambitions. To use the career compass in your study programme, please e-mail For preview of the feedback tool click here.

Life history research

With extensive interviews, we get insight in the life course of technical alumni. What do they tell about their life during primary school, high school, university, and the period after completing their education. This way we gain insight in the experiences that have shaped their professional identity and career choices.

Curriculum analysis

With the curriculum analyses, we gain insight in the extent to which curricula of technical study programs contribute to the development of students’ professional identity. What experiences do study programmes offer that are important for students to actually start feeling as a technical professional?

Join the Bridge the Gap! conference

Discover the best practices on how to attract and retain technical talent in school and work contexts in this collaborative event for practitioners and academics on July 1. During this day, we exchange knowledge on this topic in keynotes and you can participate in workshops to enhance your knowledge on specific themes such as ‘preventing drop-out among students’ and ‘effective diversity practices’. This free conference is available to 4TU staff. Read more and sign up now.

More information

Bridge the Gap! is an initiative of University of Twente en Saxion University of Applied Sciences. TU Eindhoven and WUR participate in the project. The project is financed by TechYourFuture, 4TU and Techniekpact Twente. For more information about the Bridge the Gap! project visit the 4TU.CEE innovation map, or contact: