22 SES 09 B, Student Transitions and Graduate Employability
In contemporary European societies there is growing evidence that transitions from education to work (and from work to education) can take place several times (and at different points) in the individuals’ life cycle. Transitions are currently far from being fixed and exceptional, since they occur more frequently and at different times, framing biographies that are becoming a succession of life transitions (Jarvis, 2009; Bélanger, 2011).
Within this general trend, research previously conducted in Europe signals differences between countries, due to different labour market structures, different educational systems and different social policies (Bois-Reymond & Blasco, 2003). Thus, the relevance of comparative analysis is substantial. Focusing academic trajectories, the same authors indicate that higher education certificates are not a guarantee for a permanent and safe position, but are more likely to result in well-paid, high status and protected occupational positions (Bois-Reymond & Blasco, 2003). Additionally, the analysis of international statistical data and other surveys indicates that transitions between education and work along the life cycle are expected to be of particular significance for higher education graduates (Alves, 2013).
Given this context, the paper’s overall intention is to contribute to a deepen understanding of higher education graduates’ transitions between education and work. Do higher education graduates have worked while studying in university? Which is their occupational situation about one year after graduation? Are there significant differences in the job situation according to disciplinary domain of graduation? Do graduates have already returned (or intend to return) to education?
Additionally, the goal is to shed light on these issues throughout a comparison between the situations of graduates (master degree) from two universities in different European countries (Finland and Portugal). This strategy will enable to illustrate the European diversity and further reflect upon the conditions framing transitions of higher education graduates in different national contexts. Walther (2006) has called these socio-political national system level differences as transition regimes. These are focusing on different general dimensions affecting the transition (e.g. employment situation, social security) and on specific dimensions of youth welfare (e.g. the different focus of transition policies in each welfare regime). One of the possible differences between countries to be explored relates to the way in which in Northern Europe (like in Finland) the welfare state is fundamental to support and help the individuals in coping with uncertain trajectories, while in Southern Europe (like in Portugal) the family is of great relevance in this respect (Bois-Reymond & Blasco, 2003).
Alves, M. G. (2013). Higher Education and Work - Transitions framed by time and space. In J. Seified, & E. (. Wutke, Transitions in Vocational Education (pp. 223-242). Opladen, Berlin, Toronto: Barbara Budrich. Bélanger, P. (2011). Theories in Adult Learning and Education. Opladen & Farmington Hills: Barbara Budrich Publishers. Bois-Reymond, M. d., & Blasco, A. L. (2003). Yo-yo transitions and misleading trajectories: towards integrated transitions policies for young adults in Portugal. In A. L. Blasco, W. McNeish, & A. Walther, Young People and Contradictions of Inclusion: Towards Integrated Transition Policies in Europe (pp. 19-42). Bristol: The Policy Press. Jacob, M. & Weiss, F. (2008). From Higher Education to Work. Patterns of labor market entry in Germany and the US. Working Papers. Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung ; 110. Jarvis, P. (2009). Learning to Be a Person in Society. London and New York: Routledge. Walther, A. (2006). Regimes of youth transitions: Choice, flexibility and security in young people's experiences across different European contexts, Young, 14(2): 119-139. Walther, A. & Pohl, A. (2005). Thematic Study on Policy Measures concerning Disadvantaged Youth. Final Report. Volume 1. Online publication: http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/social_inclusion/docs/youth_study_en.pdf (9. January, 2014)
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