Blog: What if no new management assistants graduate in five years' time?

Blog: What if no new management assistants graduate in five years' time?

2023-09-12  Blog Judith van der KolkMonday 18 September 2023

Times are changing. But who then makes the complex appointments, who makes sure the agenda is correct, who is the person in the background who arranges everything? Read more in the current blog by Judith van der Kolk from Spaarne hospital.

"A CIO is as strong as her/his team". You often hear that as a statement. But for many CIOs and their (senior) managers, "a CIO is as strong as his/her assistant/PA" applies just as strongly. The calmness and structure that a good assistant brings is of enormous value both in times of crisis and at times when we are thinking strategically about the future. As CIOs, we know that today's tech will not be tomorrow's tech; that we need to invest smartly to continue to be successful in carrying and innovating our businesses into the future. But do we realise enough that this also applies to that indispensable role of our assistants? That this role cannot be taken for granted in the future? That we also need to pay attention to this in order to be as strong in the future as we are today? This blog brings this topic to life - and immediately provides guidance for targeted action. Let's pick up the gauntlet!

What if no new management assistants/ office managers/ secretaries etc. graduate in 5 years time? This question has been keeping me quite busy lately. In my Haarlem - Hoofddorp region, classes are getting smaller and smaller and the professional training of management assistant in itself has already been abandoned. It falls under business services. This means that in a few years' time, the profession of management assistant as it is currently practised will most probably no longer exist.

Of course, times are changing, and a lot can be done on the smartphone. But who then makes the complex appointments, who makes sure the agenda is correct, who is the person in the background who arranges everything? A good management assistant provides structure, unburdens, keeps the overview, keeps calm and is a listening ear.

The fact that there are fewer and fewer students and therefore soon scarcity in my profession seems to me an undesirable development. I can point to the current education system, but I can also take my own responsibility in this. Passing on my knowledge and skills to the next generation, making young people enthusiastic about my wonderful profession are my personal challenges. Even if my influence is limited, who knows where it can lead?

Through the Study Centre for Business and Government (SBB), I arranged for my hospital to be recognised for business services training. The internship is then offered to students. This is how M. applied for an internship. A young fresh-faced lady at the beginning of her career. A nice and good introductory meeting followed. She will start in November for a period of eight months.

Good internship
Reactions from those around me were mostly: 'are you sure? It's a lot of work. Do you even have time for that?" Well, that is of course a trade-off. But I am convinced that a new generation of assistants will not emerge by itself. It starts with good trainee supervision. I often hear that interns are mainly good for getting coffee, making printouts and filing. That's part of the job, but of course they don't learn anything and they certainly don't get a good impression of the profession. A good internship starts by agreeing on learning goals, making clear agreements and expressing mutual expectations. For me, it is also very instructive. Why do I do things this way? Is there another way? Established patterns can come up for discussion. Young people are very digitally savvy. I can learn from them in turn!

It is such a beautiful and valuable profession! Therefore, my appeal to all assistants and CxOs to "pass on" our beautiful profession. The CxOs play a crucial role in this. They are the ones who experience the value of a good management assistant. Give your management assistant the time and space to offer a good internship.

Have I inspired you and do you still have questions? You can email me at

Judith van der Kolk
management assistent ICT
Spaarne ziekenhuis

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