March 2014


The Ocupadors/Employers survey: what it is and why we need it

Anna Prades Nebot and Carme Edo Ros - Project managers

What is the Ocupadors/Employers survey?

The purpose of the Ocupadors/Employers survey (henceforth Employers survey) is for the universities to receive feedback from the labour market regarding university education with the aim of aligning the preparation and training that students receive at university with the needs of the labour market. The survey's ultimate aim is to develop policies for improving and enhancing higher education and the university system as a whole, in terms of both academic provision (for example, in the form of programme curricula that are more relevant for the labour market and improvements to the practical dimension of curricula) and institutional actions and services that facilitate the transition to the labour market.

Obra Social La Caixa

This survey complements the survey on the labour market outcomes (destinations) of the graduate population from Catalan universities. This will consequently provide the universities, as far as the professional outcomes of their programmes of study is concerned, with the opinions of both those who are employed or in the process of becoming employed, and those who are employing them. The project is fully funded by Obra Social de La Fundació La Caixa and is also supported by the Catalan government's (Generalitat de Catalunya) Ministry of the Economy and Knowledge and Ministry of Labour.

The specific objectives of the survey are described below in Table 1.

Table 1. Specific objectives of the Employers survey

Strong and weak points of university education
  • Establish the importance of the different skills (competences) required among the graduate population.
  • Establish the levels of satisfaction with these skills (competences) in order to identify any possible shortcomings or gaps in the training of graduates.
  • Compare the employability of graduates with the international data obtained in the Eurobarometer study.
Collaboration between the universities and the labour market
  • Analyse the level and type of cooperation between companies and high education institutions (HEIs).
  • Establish cooperative relations with the labour market to develop policies to improve the design of programmes of study based on good practices at both national and international level.
Graduate recruitment
  • Analyse the factors that have influenced the level of graduate recruitment in the recent past (last five years). Establish the main difficulties for employers regarding graduate recruitment.
  • Establish university-level employment prospects in the corresponding sectors and the preparation of graduates for their development in fields and duties that are becoming increasingly important.

There are three consecutive stages to the survey, as described in Figure 2:

Figure 1. Stages to the survey

Fases de l'estudi

Why is it an important study?

Effective management of higher education institutions requires the collection, analysis and use of relevant information on their programmes of study and other activities (Standard 1.6 ESG, 2005). The availability of reliable data is crucial for decision-making.

Employability refers to the development and acquisition of a range of attributes (knowledge, skills and abilities) that can be transferred beyond what is study at university and make graduates more likely to be successful in their chosen occupations. These attributes (referred to as skills or "competences") have become the global currency of the 21st century (OECD, 2012). Employability is of particular importance in new workplace scenarios characterised by flexibility and where, as to doing the same job throughout one's entire working life, the situation has now become one of permanent preparation for occupation. Employability is in fact one of the core issues underpinning the setting up of the European Higher Education Area, which aspires to the free circulation of professionals. As the Leuven-Louvaine Declaration (2009) points out:

"With labour markets increasingly relying on higher skill levels and transversal competences, higher education should equip students with the advanced knowledge, skills and competences they need throughout their professional lives."

The development of an effective strategy that improves the preparation of graduates calls for the skill to assess the quality and quantity of skills (competences) among the graduate population. In order to do this, however, "an intelligence system" is required that can provide information, not only on the level of skills at a given time, but also on the change in demand for these skills.

Figure 2. Information system for the Catalan university system

Information system for the Catalan university system

At the present time, the university system in Catalonia has a very sound data system as a result of the indicators gathered in repositories of information, such as UNEIX, where data on the Catalan university system that has been collected since 2000 (the profile of students, that of faculty teaching staff, indicators on academic/learning outcomes, etc.) can be accessed via WINDDAT, in addition to the data and figures from the surveys on the labour market outcomes (destinations) of graduates. The forthcoming inclusion in this system of the data onstudent satisfaction, together with those from the employers survey, will make for a leading and competitive intelligence system at international level.

To find out more



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