CAN WE RELY ON EDUCATION? AN APPROACH ON GRADUATES’ EMPLOYMENT FOR IMPROVING UNIVERSITY QUALITY
Babes-Bolyai University (ROMANIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The changes in the occupational structure and the dynamics of the labor market requirements impose increased accountability for the quality of higher education services. Higher education enrolment rates have risen continuously in the last decades. Most of the figures growths are due to private system expansion. In the context of educational credentials massification, the graduates’ employment rates represent important indicators for the quality management in university institutions. Students, parents and governments, as important financing sources, more seriously advance the question: does it worth to invest in higher education? In order to answer this question, the present paper focuses on the employment achievements of the higher educated labor force. It offers a comparative analysis of the indicators measuring the higher education graduates’ employment rates and discusses the results obtained in an empirical employers’ opinion survey.
The graduates’ employment outcomes when entering the labor market are discussed by comparing the employment rates in a developing country with the ones in other European countries. In spite of the common believe that graduating from higher education does not bring advantages when entering the labor market, the statistical data show the contrary. Graduates’ employment rates are higher compared to those of the secondary education graduates. The occupational achievements of higher educated labor force represent another indicator for the employment situation. Underemployment is a continuously increasing phenomenon, mostly faced by female graduates. Still, in Romania a small percentage of graduates occupy unskilled positions. A possible explanation is launched by an empirical survey applied on 65 employers. According to the employers’ opinions most of the jobs occupied by fresh graduates, previously labelled as unskilled jobs, are now considered to be matching the candidates’ education. The changes brought by the Bologna system might have a role in this.
The educational level becomes a factor ensuring employment especially for the 25-39 age groups. While the Romanian employment rates are above the European average level, the in depth analysis of the youth unemployment reveals a different situation. Moreover, in the crisis context, the sharpest increase is manifested by the unemployment rate of the fresh graduates. Still, even referring to this category, the higher education graduates having an advantage in finding a job are the ones graduating higher education. Comparing the occupations presenting the highest unemployment levels with the number of graduates by field of study, gaps can be identified between labor force supply and demand.
Complementary to the other functions of the higher education system, the statistical data and employers’ surveys show that it still plays a great role in ensuring the employment rates for the higher education graduate labor force.
Keywords: Higher education, employment, graduates, employers.