Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari de Catalunya

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The fourth AQU survey of graduate labour market outcomes has been carried out with the backing and cooperation of the boards of trustees of the Catalan public universities with the private universities.

Document PDF PDF University and employment in Catalonia 2011 [ca]

Enllaç extern Results by degree programme and university [ca]

In relation to the employment outcomes of new professionals, the following conclusions have been drawn:

Employment situation

89% of all graduates were in employment three years after completing their studies. The variation between disciplines does not exceed 10 points (92% in the Health Sciences and 82% in Humanities). 85% of those employed were working full time.
This employment rate is 15 points higher than the rate for the overall working population between 25 and 54 in the Working Population Survey (1st quarter 2011 for Catalonia), whereas the unemployment rate was 7 points lower.
8% of graduates were unemployed, with Humanities being the subject area with the highest figure (13%) and Health Sciences the lowest (5%).

The three main reasons for graduates not finding work were:

  • An unacceptable wage level.
  • They did not find a job that they liked.
  • The lack of professional experience.

In relation to the 2008 survey, the employment rate went down by 5 percentage points, whereas the unemployment rate went up by the same amount (from 3 to 8%).

Job security

55% of all graduates had a fixed-term contract and 31% a temporary contract.

The contractual status of graduates was more secure for those working full time, with 63% having fixed-term contracts and 28% temporary contracts. Part-time employment, on the other hand, was more insecure, with 30% having fixed-term contracts and 54% temporary contracts.

In comparison to the 2008 survey, there was a slight increase in job insecurity (a 2 point increase in temporary contracts and a 4 point decrease in fixed-term contracts).

Public or private sector

The majority of the graduates covered by the survey were working in the private sector (67%). Of these, and according to subject area, Experimental Sciences (highest) accounted for 41% of recruitment in this sector whereas the figure for Engineering & Architecture (lowest) was 14%.

Recruitment in the public sector was at the same level as in the previous survey, with a break in the upward trend of the three previous surveys.

Job-education match

82% of all graduates in employment were required to have a university degree in order to obtain their job, and 85% had graduate-level job responsibilities (irrespective of whether a degree was a job requirement or not).

58% of the graduates surveyed who were in employment were in the highest match category (a specific degree was required for the job and the job was specific to the degree). According to subject area, a situation of highest match ranged from 84% in the Health Sciences to 34% in the Humanities. The good match in the Health Sciences can be explained, to a large degree, by the existence of regulatory frameworks that control entry to employment (such as in Nursing and Medicine).

In comparison to the previous surveys, whilst there was a decrease in the highest level of match, there was an increase in the percentage of graduates who were working in (non-specific) graduate-level jobs, and as a result there was only a barely perceptible increase in the lowest level of match (less than 1% increase).

Annual earnings

45% of the full-time employed graduates were earning more than EUR 24,000 a year, with only 13% earning less than EUR 15,000 a year.

A salary of under EUR 12,000 a year is associated with part-time work. Compared to 68% of those working part-time who were earning less than EUR 12,000 a year, only 13% percent of those earning this amount were working full-time.

In comparison to 2008, the trend has been for earnings to increase: the proportion of those earning less than EUR 12,000 a year went down, whereas there was an increase in those earning more than EUR 24,000 a year.

Current job satisfaction

On a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 7 (very satisfied), graduates gave a rating of 5,4 for general satisfaction with their current job. In terms of the various aspects of their employment, job content was the most satisfactory, with the least satisfactory being the wage level.

Graduates in the Social Sciences and Health Sciences were the most satisfied, whereas those in Humanities were the least satisfied.

Current job satisfaction remained steady in relation to the previous survey, aside from satisfaction with career prospects.

The process of finding a job

43% of graduates surveyed had already found a full or part-time job prior to completing their studies.

79% had found employment within three months of completing their studies and 7% took more than a year to find their first job.

Access to the labour market

The main way that graduates found employment was through personal contacts (30%), although this is becoming less important. The Internet, with 19%, was the second most important way, with a significant increase in relation to the previous survey. Newspaper classified ads, on the other hand, have become insignificant.

The analysis of the responses to how graduates gain access to the labour market from the four different surveys reveals that there is a decreasing trend in the use of personal contacts, whereas use of the Internet shows an opposite trend, and in this last survey the difference between them is only 11 percentage points. Also of note is the decline in the use of newspaper classified ads for finding employment. Lastly, the role of university careers advisory services in graduate labour market outcomes remained stable throughout the period covered by last three surveys.

Combining study and work

Working and studying combined continues to be the predominant trend and accounts for 66% of all graduates.

  • 70% of graduates who worked during the last two years of their studies had jobs associated with their studies.
  • Experimental Sciences was the subject area with the lowest number of those working and studying at the same time: 50% studied full time and therefore had little contact with the world of work and industry, meaning that their entry into work (transition to the labour market) began on completion of their studies.
  • 20% of graduates had already found a satisfactory full-time job in the last two years of their studies, prior to completing their studies (ranging from 25% in Engineering & Architecture to 8% in the Humanities).
  • 7% had a full-time job that was not associated with their studies (ranging from 14% in the Humanities to 2% in the Health Sciences).

These figures confirm a decreasing trend in the percentage of students studying full time, and a rise in the percentage of those that, during the last two years of their studies (2006 and 2007), were studying and working full time at the same time. In 2001, 41% of students combined their studies with work, whereas in 2011 this percentage was 66%, or an increase of 61%.


39% of all graduates had some experience with mobility, i.e. during their studies, for work purposes or for study and work purposes, they had a temporary change of residence. This percentage is 6 percentage points higher than in the previous survey (33%). It emerges that mobility has increased during undergraduate studies, whereas job-related mobility has practically remained stable.

According to subject area, mobility was lowest in the Social Sciences (34%) and highest (42%) in Engineering & Architecture.
Mobility is highly stable, although in this last survey there was a slight increase in the percentage of those who had a temporary change of residence.

Satisfaction with degree studies

73% of graduates would choose the same studies if they were to start over again. This figure is practically identical to that of 2008, when 74% would have taken the same degree again. This percentage ranged from 67% in Engineering & Architecture to 82% in the Health Sciences. One aspect that stands out is that this intention is at the same level in the Humanities and the Social Sciences, and higher than in Engineering & Architecture and Experimental Sciences, in spite of figures that, objectively speaking in terms of labour market outcomes, are more negative.

In comparison with the 2008 survey, the percentage of graduates who would take the same degree programme again went down by one percent.

Graduates' appraisal of their undergraduate studies

According to the 2011 survey, graduates assessed the theoretical aspects of their studies as 'fair to good', and the theoretical aspects as 'sufficient'.

The five most necessary skills for their current job, according to those with graduate-level job responsibilities, were: problem solving, decision-making, teamwork, computer skills and management skills. The least necessary, in descending order, were creativity, leadership, theoretical and practical aspects and languages.

The five skills where graduates proved to be most deficient in their job were: languages, computer skills, decision-making, problem solving and leadership

Further studies

Three-quarters of students continued with training or took further studies after completing their first degree. The majority of graduates who continued studying either took a Master's programme (33%) or a specialised course (18%). 12% took another undergraduate degree, 6% took a PhD programme and 8% took some other type of course.

Labour market outcomes and subject area

  • The performance in subjects in the Humanities was more unfavourable that in other subject areas in terms of the employment rate, unemployment rate, fixed-term and short-term work contracts (except for Philosophy, Humanities and Fine Arts), job-education match and the employment rate in management (again with the exception of Philosophy, Humanities and Fine Arts, where the performance was as anticipated).
  • The performance in subjects in the Social Sciences was more heterogeneous. It was more favourable for degree programmes in Economics, Business Administration and Management, Law, Labour Science and Relations, and Political Science, and Teaching. The two subject areas where the performance was more negative are Communication and Documentation, and Psychology and Pedagogy.
  • Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics were the subjects in Experimental Sciences where there was no important difference in relation to other subjects (neither positive nor negative). The performance of programmes in Biology and Natural Sciences was more unfavourable, however, in terms of gaining access to the labour market and job security.
  • All subjects in the Health Sciences had a higher than expected proportion of graduates in suitable jobs. On the contrary, employment in management for all subjects in this discipline was lower than expected. Consideration should be given to the fact that both healthcare personnel and teaching staff, while finding themselves in the position of having considerable autonomy and responsibility as soon as they find a suitable job, have a shorter professional career, in terms of occupying managerial positions, than those going into industry, where the organisational model is much more hierarchical. The performance of graduates of 3-year pre-Bologna programmes in the Health Sciences and Medicine was also affected negatively in terms of job security indicators; in this case, one should remember that the natural process of gaining employment in these public services involves periods of substitution and temporary postings.
  • In Engineering & Architecture, one positive aspect that stands out is the earnings indicator (except for Agriculture) and the occupying of managerial positions. The subjects with the best performance were Information and Communication, and Advanced Production Technologies. At the other extreme were the different degree programmes in Agriculture-related programmes.

Labour market outcomes and gender

The evidence to date, with less than a one-percentage point difference (in favour of females), is that there are no differences in the employment rate between male and female graduates. On the other hand, according to the data from the Working Population Survey, there is a 10-point differential for the working population between 25 and 54 in favour of males (although the difference may be due to the broader age range of the Working Population Survey in comparison to the population in this survey, the average age of which was 30, with a standard deviation of 5).

The distance learning university

Students at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) are different to students at campus-based universities, which is shown by the fact that almost two-thirds (66%) had completed previous degree programmes prior to starting their studies at the Open University, and almost 90% worked full-time during their studies. The profile of students at the Open University makes it difficult to assess the added value of the Open University in terms of labour market outcomes.

The high rates of employment (94%), full-time jobs (93%) and job security (83% had a fixed-term contact), and the high number of graduates with a gross annual salary of over EUR 24,000 (77%) show that this is a mature group made up of individuals who, more than being in a situation of transition to the labour market, are in a process of consolidating their professional careers.

85% of the population had graduate-level responsibilities in their jobs (the percentage ranges from 90% for those who already had a university degree prior to entering the Open University to 76% for those whose studies at the Open University represented their first degree). However, few had graduate-level responsibilities in their jobs in relation to the degree they were awarded from the Open University (14%).

In comparison to the 2008 survey, there was a 4% drop in the employment rate, although the job-education match only went down by 2 percentage points and contractual stability went up by 3 percentage points.

82% would take their same degree again and 96% would again choose the Open University if they had the opportunity.

Survey details

PDF document PDF Survey

Year: 2011

Faculties and universities: UB, UAB, UPC, UPF, UdG, UdL, URV, UOC, URL, UVic, UIC, UAO CEU and 22 affiliated centres.

Population and sample: 28.616 / 16.182 (The reference population completed their university studies in the 2006-2007 academic year, except for graduates of Medicine (2003-2004).