Integrated approach to tackle staff shortagesThe Rijks Data Science Programme is part of an action plan of the Dutch government involving the recruitment of ICT professionals, as addressed by Minister Ollongren in a letter to the Lower House of Parliament in December 2017. This letter states that an integrated approach is necessary to tackle ICT staffing shortages within central government. One element of this integrated approach is the launch of the Rijks Data Science Programme, in which recent university graduates with a Master’s degree can enrol following an extensive selection procedure.
Specialising in data scienceAs explained by programme manager Rien Stor, the programme has two tracks: ‘The Rijks Data Trainee Programme allows candidates to work at three different departments within central government, altogether for a duration of two years. At CBS, they will learn how to translate policy questions into research questions and vice versa. In addition, we offer the Rijks Data Science Programme which combines vocational training and work. Candidates are employed by the same government organisation for two years, and are seconded to CBS for one year to further specialise in data science. They learn about data modeling, data cleaning and combining of datasets through programming in R of Python, for example. In short, this is where they gain in-depth knowledge. In both programmes, candidates also learn about the civil service and personal development.’
There were altogether 260 candidates for the Rijks Data Science Programme, with 35 finally selected. They will be joining a ministry or an executive organisation. How did the selection take place? Stor: ‘Based on a number of criteria, such as their CV, an academic assessment test (at an average university level), a personality test, an interview with a recruiter and a selection committee with BZK and CBS staff. The final phase involved carousel-style interviews of the candidates by colleagues from the various participating ministries. After this selection, we tried to arrive at a good match between both parties.’
‘With its huge amounts of data, CBS is in a unique position to contribute to the trainee programme’