The Professional PhD Program (PPP) is an initiative from the PhD Candidates Network of the Netherlands (PNN) to improve the transition of PhDs in the Netherlands to a career outside of academia. Although most PhD programs focus on an academic career, approximately 70% of PhDs work outside of academia, for example in the public sector or in business. By participating in the PPP, successful PhD candidates are given a chance to work at an organization outside of the university for several months on a practical project required by the company. The PPP was originally started with a subsidy from the Social Fund for the Knowledge Sector (SoFoKleS).
The duration of the PPP is between 3 and 6 months. The project can be carried out part-time (from 0.2 FTE) or full-time (1.0 FTE with unpaid leave). The company pays only the salary part of the costs of the PhD candidate (thus no WW responsibility) according to the conditions of the CAO NU/UMC/OI. PNN is not involved in the contract between the PhD candidate and the company, but only facilitates the vacancies and contacts, and is thus not legally responsible. The two parties establish a plan stating the tasks and timeline involved in the project. After completing the project, the PhD candidate returns to the university to complete their dissertation.
PNN hopes with the PPP to show how valuable PhD candidates can be outside of academia and to strengthen cooperation between universities and business. During the PPP, organizations learn the added value of a PhD for their organization. They get to employ talented individuals who are known for their analytical skills, specialized knowledge, and willingness to work hard at a relatively low cost. PhD candidates, on the other hand, learn to consciously apply the transferable skills gained during their PhD program, such as good project management and professional presentation, and get the opportunity to contribute to an actual company project. The PhD candidates come in contact with various organizations outside of science and get a clear picture of career opportunities after their PhD.