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The Future of Graduate Employment and Work and the Implications for Higher Education. Contribution to the OECD/France International Conference “Higher Education to 2030: What Futures for Quality Access in the Era of Globalisation?” Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers

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the future of graduate employment and work and the implications for higher education

The Future of Graduate Employment and Work and the Implications for Higher Education

Contribution to the OECD/France International Conference “Higher Education to 2030: What Futures for Quality Accessin the Era of Globalisation?”

Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers

Paris, 8 – 9 December 2008

Ulrich Teichler

International Centre for Higher Education Research Kassel

INCHER-KASSELUniversity of Kassel, 34109 KasselGermanyTel. ++49-561-804 2415Fax ++49-561-804 7415

E-mail: teichler@incher-uni-kassel.de

the educational functions of higher education
The Educational Functionsof Higher Education
  • To transmit understanding of academic theories, methods and knowledge
  • Cultural enhancement and personality development
  • Preparing students for future work by conveying the “tools” and “rules” of conventional professional work
  • Prepare students to call into question the established “rules” and “tools” of professional work: to be sceptical and critical, to handle indeterminate work tasks, to strive for innovation
higher education needs knowledge on graduates
Higher Education Needs Knowledge on Graduates’
  • Employment
  • Work
  • Knowledge utilisation

as a feed-back in order to reflect the consequences of one of its core activities, i.e. those of knowledge transmission, in the domain of curricula, teaching and learning.

This holds true irrespective of the extent to which the higher education systems as a whole, certain types of institutions, types of study programmes or fields or study have a

  • “vocational”/“professional” or
  • “academic”

emphasis.

growing public interest
Growing Public Interest

The public interest in the employment and work

outcome of higher education has grown over the

years in Europe as a consequence of

  • higher education expansion, because the expanding lower level programmes and graduates are expected in most European countries to be more directly prepared for the world of work (cf. in the Bologna Process the “employability debate” and the concern about the professional relevance of university bachelor)
  • growing utilitarian expectationsharboured with research to higher education (cf. in the Lisbon Process the call to make Europe the “most competitive economy” with the help of knowledge enhancement)
  • increasing pressures to provide evidence about proper processes and desirable outcomes (cf. the popularity of terms and measures such as “evaluation”, “accreditation”, “accountability” or “evidence-based policy”).
two major ambivalences in the worldwide debates on higher education and the world of work
Two Major Ambivalences in the Worldwide Debates on Higher Education and the World of Work

The quantitative ambivalence:

  • On the one hand: Expansion of higher education is beneficial for economic growth
  • On the other hand: “Over-education” (employment problems faced by graduates)

The functional ambivalence:

  • On the one hand: Call for professional relevance of study programmes and study or for “employability”
  • On the other hand: Concerns about too little emphasis on academic learning, general education, and benefits beyond the labour market, about sub-ordination on current employers’ and neglect of critical function as well as of preparation for indeterminate work tasks and of innovation in general
higher education has to look forward for about 40 years
Higher Education has to Look Forward for About 40 Years
  • Curricular innovation might need five years
  • Period of study might last five years
  • Graduates will be employed for about 30 years on average

Potentials and Limitations of Long Term Strategies

options of higher education vis vis long term developments of graduate employment and work
Options of Higher Education vis-à-vis Long-Term Developments of Graduate Employment and Work
  • Quantitative: HE expansion and graduate employment
  • Structures: Diversity of HE systems and the composition of graduate employment and work
  • Functions: Increasing life-long learning/continuing professional education
  • Curricula I: Competences and job requirements
  • Curricula II: Preparation for labour market dynamics and uncertainties
  • Curricula III: Assumption of international convergence or persistence of differences between countries
  • Curricula IV: Internationalisation
quantitative options for higher education
Quantitative Options for Higher Education
  • OECD 1997 (Reconsidering Tertiary Education): Trend towards universal tertiary education
  • Growing relevance of tertiary education for associate professionals
  • “Over-education” or growing relevance for middle-level occupations?
l ow level of over education in europe 2005 occupation isco88 by type of study programme
Low Level of Over-education in Europe 2005 Occupation (ISCO88) by Type of Study Programme

Source: REFLEX 2005; INCHER-Kassel

slide10
Low Level of Over-education in EuropeAppropriate Level of Education is Below Tertiary Education – (4-5 Years After Graduation; %)

Source: CHEERS 1999 and REFLEX 2005; INCHER-Kassel

structural options of higher education
Structural Options of Higher Education

Options

  • Types of institutions and programmes
  • Intra-institutional diversity or inter-institutional diversity in HE
  • Flat or steep “vertical” quality/reputation differences

Issues

  • Types of “theoretical” vs. “applied” occupations?
  • Bachelor-/master-structure: intra-institutional diversity in some but not in all countries?
  • Are we moving towards an “elite knowledge society” or towards a “mass knowledge society”?
  • Tensions between “vertical” and “horizontal” diversity
major curricular options
Major Curricular Options

Alternatives

  • Academic vs. professional fields of study
  • Academic reflections vs. reflections of the tensions between academic and professional problem-solving
  • “Theoretical” vs. applied approach
  • Specific vs. general

Key issues

  • Do long-term views call for general education?
  • Do the country distinctions between professional vs. general emphasis disappear or continue?
slide13
Major Terms and Concepts of Competences Other Than Specific Knowledge(“Employability Skills”, “Key Skills” etc.)
  • Transfer of (academic) knowledge to professional work assignments (“problem-solving activities”)
  • Development of typical working styles (e.g. working under pressure, working independently without clear assignments)
  • Development of typical working values (“loyality”, “achievement orientation”)
  • Social skills (“leadership”, “team work”, etc.)
  • Supplementary knowledge (foreign languages, ICT, organisational knowledge, etc.)
  • Context awareness (“adaptation”, “reflection”, “risk tasking”, etc.)
  • Learning to manage one’s own career
stability of work requirements 1999 2005 arithm mean
Stability of Work Requirements:1999 – 2005 (arithm. mean)

Source: CHEERS 1999 and REFLEX 2005; INCHER-Kassel

possible curricular consequences
Possible Curricular Consequences
  • Strengthen disciplinary and professional knowledge
  • Strengthen knowledge transfer (“problem-solving abilities”)
  • Strengthen independent learning, reflection and critical thinking
  • Strengthen experiential learning (project, work experience in dialogue with the university, temporary study abroad, etc.)
  • Strengthen generic skills (general education!)
  • Strengthen personality development
work experience during the course of study of persons graduating in 1995
Work Experience During the Course of Study(% of persons graduating in 1995)

Source: REFLEX Survey

relevance for employers decision to recruit graduates as perceived by 1995 graduates
Relevance for Employers’ Decision to Recruit Graduates as Perceived by 1995 Graduates (%)

Source: CHEERS Survey

internationalisation
Internationalisation
  • Employment of graduates abroad: less than 5 percent from OECD countries?
  • Sent abroad by employers: more than5 percent?
  • Study abroad at least temporarily: more than 10 percent?
  • What do we expect in the future?
the world of work and the responsibilities of the university
The World of Work and the Responsibilities of the University
  • The subordinated university
  • The “ivory tower” autonomous university
  • The knowledgeable, reflective university
  • The pro-active university