PhD position on Knowledge Representation & Responsible Design for Inclusive Employment Matching Algorithms

PhD position on Knowledge Representation & Responsible Design for Inclusive Employment Matching Algorithms

Published Deadline Location
10 Jun 5 Jul Enschede

Job description

This fully-funded, 4-year PhD research position is part of the project "Don't Forget the Forgotten! Towards a Platform-Based Approach for Sustainable Employment of Workers with a Disability". This project, funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO), addresses the challenge of limited sustainable employment opportunities for workers with disabilities (i.e., a healthy, productive, and meaningful career). By developing online platform cooperatives and algorithms for matching disabled workers and employers, you address this urgent challenge while contributing to broader societal issues such as labor market shortages, budget strains, and the energy transition.

PhD project
This PhD project builds on the notion that existing matching algorithms and domain models insufficiently address the characteristics of workers with a disability. The project aims to develop novel knowledge representations (ontologies) that better capture these aspects. We will employ an empirical and participatory approach to elicit requirements for the knowledge representation frameworks via data collection from relevant stakeholders. The requirements are used to design a novel domain-specific ontology that mathematically captures relevant worker characteristics and their relations regarding employee competencies, interests, values, and vulnerabilities. The ontology is the basis for building a novel matching algorithm that emphasizes the inclusion of workers with a disability. A prototype implementation of the matching algorithm will be developed as a proof of concept that demonstrates how an inclusive algorithm fosters a better person-environment fit for workers with a disability and facilitates sustainable employment.

The prospective candidate is expected to:
  • Perform and publish high quality and internationally visible research, and be involved in teaching and student supervision to a limited extent.
  • Study and address the challenges associated with modeling employee-employer characteristics;
  • Develop a matching algorithm and software prototype that foster inclusion and person-environment fit for workers with a disability;
  • Collaborate with societal partners;
  • Work in a team with two other PhD researchers from the engineering and social sciences;

You will receive mentorship by an experienced, international team of senior scholars with expertise in online platforms, labor markets, and AI systems at work.


University of Twente (UT)


  • You hold or will soon hold a Master's degree (or equivalent) in computer science, artificial intelligence, information systems, or a related field;
  • You have excellent proficiency in English in speaking and writing (C1; above IELTS 7 or equivalent);
  • You have interest and some experience in one or more of the following, or related topics: knowledge representation and reasoning, logic and formal methods, knowledge engineering, conceptual modeling, or requirements engineering;
  • You have experience in or the interest to develop skills in qualitative and quantitative empirical research with vulnerable and marginalized groups;
  • You have good communication skills, excellent conceptual and analytical skills, and you have an interest in working in a multidisciplinary environment;
  • Affinity and/or experience with collaboration and/or community building with societal partners such as employers, employees, government representatives;
  • Wish to tackle societal problems and make societal impact.

Conditions of employment

  • As a PhD candidate at UT, you will be appointed to a full-time position for four years, with a qualifier in the first year, within a very stimulating and exciting scientific environment;
  • The University offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues;
  • Your salary and associated conditions are in accordance with the collective labour agreement for Dutch universities (CAO-NU);
  • You will receive a gross monthly salary ranging from € 2.770,- (first year) to € 3.539,- (fourth year);
  • There are excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%, and a solid pension scheme;
  • The flexibility to work (partially) from home;
  • A minimum of 232 leave hours in case of full-time employment based on a formal workweek of 38 hours. A full-time employment in practice means 40 hours a week, therefore resulting in 96 extra leave hours on an annual basis;
  • Free access to sports facilities on campus;
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid);
  • You will have a training programme as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will determine a plan for a suitable education and supervision;
  • We encourage a high degree of responsibility and independence, while collaborating with close colleagues, researchers and other staff.


This position is embedded in the Human Media Interaction (HMI) department at University of Twente. HMI is a multidisciplinary group in which computer science meets social science to investigate, design and evaluate novel forms of human-computer interaction. We develop and use (logic-based) AI techniques to support meaningful interactions between people and digital technologies. We are socially engaged researchers, with a particular interest and expertise in research with vulnerable and marginalized groups. The group has a very friendly, collaborative and welcoming atmosphere, centring wellbeing and work-life balance.

Additional information

Are you interested in this position? Please send your application via the 'Apply now' button below by July 5th 2024, and include:
  • A letter of application in which you explain both your motivation and the relevance of your skills and experience for the research project. The motivational letter should be on-topic.
  • A full Curriculum Vitae including your publications (if any) and working experience. Your CV should demonstrate the scope of your work and education and indicate a good fit with the stated requirements for the position.
  • An academic transcript of BSc and MSc education (or equivalent), including grades.
  • Your MSc thesis or the latest draft in English (or alternatively if your MSc thesis is not in English, a 5-page summary of your MSc thesis in English).
  • References (contact information) of two scientific staff members (one of whom would preferably be the supervisor of your MSc thesis/final project) who are willing to be contacted by us.

Preferred starting date of position: before November 15th, 2024.
For more information regarding this position, you are welcome to contact Dr. Birna van Riemsdijk (


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1813


University of Twente (UT)

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Drienerlolaan 5, 7522NB, Enschede

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Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 5 Jul 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).