Think differently, act differently: 10 Years of Research Into Sustainable Talent Development

The world we live in is changing rapidly, and with it, the way we work and live together. This calls for innovative learning and working environments in which individual talent is central. The Sustainable Talent Development research group celebrates its 10th anniversary on Thursday 30 September with the theme ‘10 years on the road to discovery’.

Ellen Sjoer

“We are inevitably heading towards a more inclusive and sustainable future. A future in which technology is developing at an extraordinary pace and many of the traditional professions are disappearing. Lifelong learning and development are crucial,” says professor Ellen Sjoer.

A time of transition

According to the professor, who set up the Sustainable Talent Development research group 10 years ago, we are living in a time of transition. “The nature of many professions is changing. Installers are becoming advisors on energy transition, nurses are becoming care directors and accountants are becoming ICT experts because they’re working with ingenious computer programmes to detect fraud”.

Everyone has talent

The Sustainable Talent Development research group studies the effects of a changing society on education and training in the present decade of the 21st century. It does so from different perspectives, with an open mind and one important goal in mind: optimal development for every student and professional. Because, according to the researchers, everyone has talent. Ellen explains that, “as a research group, we support and promote every talent. We focus on ‘talent development4all’ and the best possible learning environment to develop it”.

Learning communities

The labour market of tomorrow requires new qualities and new ways to develop them. This is why the research group is participating in a national initiative to create a network of so-called learning communities. Ellen explains that, “in order to move forward on major issues such as the energy transition or a more inclusive society, we need to think and act differently”. According to the professor, in the Netherlands the worlds we live in are still too separate: that of education, the government and businesses. “By really learning, working and innovating together, we can succeed. Within learning communities, we are all students”.

Approaches and tools

The research group investigates, together with partners within and outside the university of applied sciences, how lifelong development can be stimulated to facilitate transitions in the fields of horticulture, retail, care, installation technology and education. This knowledge is then translated into concrete approaches and tools that can be put into practice. On the occasion of the 10-year anniversary of the research group, 11 tools will be published this month on its website. On top of that, the group’s researchers regularly publish an average of 25 publications a year.

Job satisfaction

“A big part of my job satisfaction is being curious together and doing research in different networks: with a very nice group of researchers, students and colleagues in the Netherlands and abroad. Over the past 10 years, we have experienced so many beautiful moments, be it working together on data analysis for a PhD, building an app with students for better cooperation in the Greenport, setting up labs with entrepreneurs across the country or presenting at international conferences; it is always a team effort. Together, we make a difference in people’s lives, and in society. And I am proud of that”.