ESTGA - University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 50-59
ISBN: 978-84-617-2484-0
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 17-19 November, 2014
Location: Seville, Spain
In a context of scarcity of financial resources and rise of graduate unemployment, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have been urged to contribute to the employability of their graduates. In fact, these institutions are increasingly concerned with the professional insertion of their graduates in the labour market and with the design of institutional mechanisms that facilitate students’ transition from higher education to work. This has been achieved, inter alia, through the creation of study programmes with internships, or several other forms of cooperative education between HEIs and employing institutions.

Benefits of internships are extensively reported in the majority of studies dealing with the professional integration of graduates. However, these studies tend to be largely based on the perceptions of the main stakeholders involved – students, HEIs, and employing institutions – rather than on actual postgraduation career outcomes.

This paper aims to assess the importance of internships for employability of graduate students. Three inter-related dimensions are explored. Firstly, we analyse the extent to which the introduction of internships in study programmes contributes to the decrease of graduate unemployment rates, by looking at different scenarios (private vs public HEIs; and universities vs polytechnic institutions). Second, we assess the extent to which the different features of internships, namely those associated with their length and structure contribute to lower graduate unemployment rates. Thirdly, we discuss internship approaches which seem to allow greater job preparedness, namely those related to interns’ supervision entailing close collaboration between universities and employers.

Our empirical data consists of a unique database comprising 1,168 Portuguese first cycle degrees, with study programmes approved from 2006 to 2009 and published in the Official Gazette. To draw meaningful inter- and intra-subject comparisons, all subject areas were included in the database. This database merely includes those degrees for which there is official data on the number of unemployed graduates registered in the Employment and Vocational Training Institute (IEFP) for more than 12 months. This analysis will arguably contribute policy-making in terms of internships.