Tag: employability

News: Low unemployment amongst Norwegian Master graduates

logo_en_graa-300x120New data from a NIFU report suggests that nine out of ten of Norwegian Masters degree graduates are at work six months after graduation. The data was compiled based on a nation wide survey of Masters degree candidates six months after graduation where main focus was put on the transfer from education to work. The main findings from the report are summarised in the following key points:

In general, there are few changes in the employability and unemployment amongst graduates is 6,8%. While there are generally minor differences in the general unemployment rates of new graduates, the group where unemployment had risen more than others,  was those in economic-administrative disciplines. Furthermore, despite for continuous calls for more education in natural sciences that has been prominent in Norwegian public debate in recent years, the report indicated that those with a background in natural sciences have a rather high unemployment level (9,6%), while unemployment is on below average level for those with engineering degrees (6%).

There has been a substantial growth in the number of masters degrees in Norway between 2003 and 2013, and there has been a debate on what has been termed “Masters Disease” (Mastersyke) in Norwegian media, where a core argument has been that Norwegian higher education educates too many with Masters degrees and that this kind of over-education has adverse effects on the labour market. However, the NIFU report does not suggest that there has been an increase in the mismatch between labour market needs and graduate educational levels, and this is in fact relevant for all disciplinary fields. There is indeed a certain number of Masters degree candidates working on positions where a bachelors degree would sufficient. At the same time, what is notable is that the share of these graduates has not increased despite a substantial increase of Masters degree candidates in recent years. As such, the report does not confirm the anecdotal stories of candidates with masters degrees working in low-skilled work where no higher education is not required, suggesting that the labour market and educational structure in Norway is  different than what one can find in countries such as the US.

Professionally oriented Masters Programmes give a clear advantage on the labour market

businessA new Norwegian study by NIFU has examined labour market conditions for Norwegian Masters degree holders three years after degree completion. The key finding is that those with a more profession-oriented degree have clear advantages on the labour market. Norway is known for its generally low unemployment rate, even in the context of current global economic crisis where especially youth unemployment has been increasing in a number of countries to record levels.

Recent prognosis for Norway is an estimated unemployment rate of 4,6% by 2016, with current estimates being around 3,6%. This suggest a rather different labour market context than in the rest of the world, and provides an interesting case for examining how students perceive their own options and capacities on the labour market when the conditions are rather stable.

The results from the study suggest that a Masters degree definitely pays off. Nearly 99% of the graduates were active on the labour market three years after graduation.  However – this was not in all cases stable employment, as the graduates also reported some periods of unemployment. The report suggests that this is due to the fact that many graduates do struggle to find relevant employment and the transfer from studies to work-life is not always smooth. Furthermore, the disciplinary differences were very clear. Where psychology and engineering graduates in fact often were headhunted to their first positions, those with humanities and social sciences background had to use more time to find a job.

Guest blogger: How students become consumers of higher education

Dr. Joanna Williams
(University of Kent, UK)

In this post, dr Joanna Williams from University of Kent (UK) argues that there is a complex process by which students adopt a consumer perspective to higher education, and it is not merely tuition fees that contribute to this. 

The entry draws on her recent book “Consuming Higher Education: Why Learning Can’t Be Bought“, London: Bloomsbury. 

Recent news reports suggest the true cost of a university education for English students may be close to £100,000. It is perhaps not surprising then that students are increasingly described as ‘consumers’ of higher education (HE) (see Brown: 2011 and Molesworth, Nixon and Scullion: 2011). In Consuming Higher Education: Why Learning Can’t Be Bought I argue that the payment of university tuition fees (currently £9000 each year for English students) is a symptom rather than a cause of students being considered as consumers. Students are constructed as consumers both before entering HE and while at university by a range of government policies and institutional practices, many of which pre-date tuition fees paid by individual students. Indeed, students were first referred to as ‘customers’ of HE in government publicity in 1993, five years before they were required to pay any fees at all (see the Conservative government’s 1993 Charter for Higher Education).

Students are constructed as consumers from the moment they first begin to think about attending university. Government-sponsored websites offering guidance to school children present university as mainly concerned with future employment and material reward: ‘Higher education could boost your career prospects and earning potential … on average, graduates tend to earn substantially more  … Projected over a working lifetime, the difference is something like £100,000’. The government’s perception of the benefit of HE emerges clearly: it is to enable youngsters to get a job and earn money. Education is presented as an essentially private investment from which material rewards can be accrued. The ‘good consumer’ will shop around to choose the university that will most efficiently yield the highest return on their investment.

One third of young people with a tertiary degree from China by 2020?

Global talent pool in 2020 (Source: OECD)

There is a widespread assumption of the developed parts of the world being on the forefront of development and innovation – with occasional warnings of up-and-coming countries. However, when examining where the largest number of graduates is going to be by 2020, the image looks very different.

Pedro Garcia de León, Corinne Heckmann, and Gara Rojas González  from the OECD have compiled and visualised the prognosis on the developments in participation rates in OECD and G20 countries. Their prognosis indicates that almost one third of people with higher education in the OECD and G20 countries are going to be from China in 2020.

The growth in graduation rates has been particularly notable in the non-OECD G20 countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa that have shown almost 65% increase in enrolments between 2000 to 2010. On the other hand, OECD countries only showed a growth of about 30%.

Funded PhD studentships by Higher Education Academy in UK

For those interested in doing a PhD in higher education, Higher Education Academy in the UK has announced two funded PhD studentships.

The grants are linked to specific thematic areas linked to employability: work experience and mobility.

Both of the grants cover three years of tuition and maintenance scholarship (yearly £13,590 + £850 to support research training)

Studentship 1: ‘Articulating learning and employability through experience’ at Keele University.

This studentship will explore how HE students’ engagement in different forms of work experience (i.e. paid employment, placements, internships and volunteering) contributes to their leaner skills and employability, and there is an expectation of interdisciplinary work. You can find more information about the expected focus, Keele University and application procedures (necessary documents etc) by downloading the announcement here (pdf). Application deadline: 20th of June 2012  at 5PM (GMT+1h).

Studentship 2: ‘The Impact of Different Forms of International Student Mobility on Learning and Transitions to Employment’ at University of Surrey.

This studentship will explore how HE students experiences with various mobility initiatives (i.e. mobility programmes, dual degrees, short visits, work placements abroad etc) contributes to their learning and employability later on. You can find more information about the  focus and application procedures here (reference 8771). Application deadline is 25th of June 2012 at 09AM (GMT + 1h).