22 SES 09 A, Higher Education Graduates in the World of Work - the Story Continues (part 1)
Symposium, Continued in 22 SES 10 A
On the European Union level there exist an idea to tighten the bonds between educational systems and the labour market. In the most recent Bologna Process documents the employability has been lifted from the peripheral presence to the core presence. It seems that raison d'être for universities in the EU is just to fulfil the needs of national economies or the short-term needs of the labour market. It has also been claimed by Kivinen & Nurmi (2003) that universities in Europe have become more school-like and vocational. In becoming more vocational, the goals and contents of university studies are increasingly following the assumed needs of the labour market and various professions. This is clearly articulated in the last Communiqué (Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve 2009).
The massification of higher education has led to a situation where growing number of graduates are facing difficulties in finding a graduate job. According to Grupp & Lazerson (2005), students come to universities believing that they can exchange a degree for professional status. As long as the labour market was expanding and there was a growing need for highly educated experts, it was relatively easy for a graduate to find a suitable occupation. But when the expansion phase is over, the employment of new graduates becomes more complicated. Smith wrote already in 1986, "a college education was once sufficient for the attainment of a good job. It is clearly no longer sufficient, but at the same time, it is all the more necessary."
There have been many signs of growing insecurity in working life (e.g. Bauman 2000), which are reflected in employment of higher education graduates as well. All of them cannot expect anymore to transfer fluently from education to permanent full-time employment (e.g. Allen & Van der Velen 2007, Alves 2005, Schomburg & Teichler 2006).
In this symposium we will explore the employment of higher education graduates from different viewpoints in several European countries: Finland, Great-Britain, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. We ask what the employment phenomena is all about? What kind of similarities and differences there are in graduates’ placement in the world of work in different countries? We are analysing employment problems, the transition phases and employment outcomes by using various research methods that include quantitative as well as qualitative methods.
The symposium is a follow up of employment researcher symposium held in ECER 2009 in Vienna. We will continue the mapping of relationship between higher education and the world of work in different European countries. Different research projects will rely on different frameworks and this will enable us also to critically reflect those frameworks and also to think what is their contribution to understanding of the phenomena. Looking to the future of the professional profiles, which are being designed within the European Higher Education Area, the information generated from this symposium would benefit and improve the quality of training provided in European universities.
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