Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari de Catalunya

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AQU Catalunya completed the fifth survey on the labour market outcomes of graduates from Catalan universities. The study looks at the employment outcomes of 17,337 graduates of pre-Bologna degree courses (llicenciatures, diplomatures, etc.) and 1,426 doctorate holders. Catalonia currently has the database with the most representative data on graduate employment outcomes in the whole of Europe.

As a general conclusion, it is worth pointing out that, in spite of the situation created by the economic crisis, the university system in Catalonia continues to be a driver of differential employability.

Document PDF PDF University and employment in Catalonia 2014 

Enllaç extern Results by degree programme and university [ca]

The main findings and conclusions of the study are as follows:



Employment situation

As mentioned above, the university system in Catalonia continues to be a driver of differential employability, due to the fact that:

  • 8 out of 10 people were in work three years after graduating and 1 out of 10 were unemployed.
  • Moreover, they took less time to find a job (77% of graduates of pre-Bologna degrees were employed within 3 months of graduating).
  • According to figures from the Spanish Labour Force Survey (EPA), the employment (placement) rate of people with higher studies is practically twice that of people with just a primary education.

Nevertheless, the 2014 study shows the apparent impact of the economic crisis with a drop of 10% in the employment (placement) rate compared to the figures for 2011.

Public and private sector recruitment

8 out of 10 people were working in the private sector. There was an 11% drop in recruitment in the public sector compared to 2011 (10% in the last three years) as a consequence of cut backs in the public sector. The proportion of public sector employment was lower than the figure for the 2005 survey.

7 out of 10 people were working full-time. Compared to 2011, there was a drop of 10%. The employment (placement) rate was highest for the Health Sciences, although this subject area, together with Humanities, also had the highest part-time job rate.

Quality of employment

Job stability

There was a 10% drop in the number of permanent employment contracts compared to 2011: 5 out of 10 people had a permanent contract while 3 out of 10 had a temporary contract. Contractual status was more stable for graduates working full-time (58% with permanent contracts and 29% with temporary contracts), whereas part-time work was more associated with job instability (30% and 57%).

Annual earnings/salary

4 out of 10 people in full-time work were earning over 24,000 euros a year. Only 2 out of 10 were earning less than 12,000 euros a year. Average gross monthly earnings were 1,863 euros. An annual income of under 12,000 euros is associated with part-time employment: 8 out of 10 people working part-time were earning less than 12,000 euros a year. There was also a drop in the earnings of graduates: there was a 10% increase in the number of those earning less than 12,000 euros a year, an 8% decrease in those earning up to 24,000 euros, and a 2% decrease in those earning over 24,000 euros a year.

Education-job skills match

The 2014 survey shows how the crisis has affected the education-job skills match: there was a drop in the highest match level of 8% in just three years. Nevertheless, 7 out of 10 people in work were required to have a university degree for their job and 8 out of 10 had graduate-level job duties and responsibilities. Humanities, Social Sciences and Experimental Sciences saw the biggest drop in the education-job skills match (10%, 9% and 8%, respectively).

Current job satisfaction

There were few changes as regards current job satisfaction compared to the previous study: graduates rated their overall satisfaction with their current job as 7.6 on a scale from 1 to 10.

As regards the different aspects of their job, graduates listed job content as the most satisfactory and earnings/income as the least satisfactory.

The process of finding a job

The time taken for graduates to find their first job

5 out of 10 people had a job prior to completing their degree; 8 out of 10 had found a job within three months of completing their studies (3% less than in the 2011 survey); and 1 out of 10 took more than a year to find their first job.

There was also an increase in the time taken by those who were unemployed to find a job: around 30% more than a year to find a job (16% had been looking for more than two years) compared to 13% in 2011.

Ways of finding a job

The main way that graduates found jobs was through personal contacts (39%). This way of finding a job, which was on a downward trend in previous surveys, has again become the most effective way for graduates to find a job.

Use of the Internet (16%) was the second most important way, followed by work experience and placement during university studies, which increased in importance (12%).

Combining work and study

The percentage of students who study while also working continues to predominate and has increased over time: 67% of graduates combined study and work while they were at university. At the same time, there has been an increase in the proportion of those working part-time and a drop in those working full-time.

67% of graduates who worked during the last two years of their studies at university had a job related to their degree course. This would appear to be the best strategy for acquiring a higher skilled job later on. According to subject area, the impact of the strategy used by graduates to find a job during their time studying at university is most evident in the Humanities, compared to Health Sciences and Experimental Sciences where it was not so important if they had a job related to their degree course or not, or if they just studied.


As regards job location, 9 out of 10 graduates were working in Catalonia, with the majority working in Barcelona. Out of the 3% of students who were working abroad, 82% were working in Europe (mainly the UK, France and Germany) and 12% in North America and Latin America.

Graduate satisfaction with their degree studies and skills acquisition

Skills acquisition and their usefulness in the work place

There was an overall increase in the rating of skills acquisition for all competences. With the exception of leadership and languages, all competences were rated as satisfactory or higher

In general terms, there was a drop in the deficit in core competences in the 2014 survey.

Worthy of note is the fact that there has been an improvement in the rating for computer skills, which in the 2014 survey was rated as satisfactory.

The skills with the highest deficit were:

  • Languages
  • Decision-making
  • Computer skills
  • Leadership
  • Problem solving

The five skills rated as being the most useful and necessary in the work place were:

  • Problem solving
  • Decision-making
  • Team work
  • Management skills
  • Oral expression

Satisfaction with their studies

72% of graduates would take the same degree if they had to study again. This percentage ranges from 69% in Experimental Sciences and Engineering and Architecture to 84% in Health Sciences. It is of note that the intention to take the same degree programme again was higher in the Humanities than in Social Sciences, Experimental Sciences and Engineering and Architecture, in spite of the figures for employment outcomes, which objectively speaking are more negative in the Humanities.

Compared to the 2011 study, the percentage of people who would take the same degree programme again went down by 1%.

Continuing education

Around 75% of all graduates continued to upgrade their skills after completing their studies. The majority of graduates who continued studying either took a Master’s degree (40%) or a specialized course (15%); 11% took another undergraduate degree, 4% a doctoral degree and 5% some other type of further studies or training.

There has been an increasing trend since 2008 for graduates to take a Master’s degree after completing their undergraduate studies (from 26% in 2008 to 40% in 2014).

Employment outcomes and the degree subject studied

In 2014, certain subjects were affected more by the drop in the employment (placement) rate than others. There was no drop in the employment rate in Architecture compared to 2011, although there was a drop in Civil Engineering where degree courses are more closely linked to public works. The drop in Visual Arts was considerable although unemployment only rose 2%, the difference being absorbed by the inactivity rate, which increased by 10%. A drop in the employment rate does not automatically imply an increase in the unemployment rate.

Degree courses in the Humanities, Teaching, Biology and Natural Sciences, as well as Psychology and Pedagogy, all saw a drop in the employment (placement) rate of graduates over the last three years. All of these subjects are closely connected to Education, which saw an important reduction in the number of jobs and openings in the public sector.

The group of degree courses for which the employment rate did not go down includes Economics and Business Administration and Management, Informatics/Computer Science and Communication, Architecture, Physics and Mathematics. The group where there was an increase in the employment rate includes Nautical Science, Aviation, Pharmacy and Food Science & Technology.

Employment outcomes and gender

Job situation according to gender

For the first time, the employment (placement) rate for male graduates was slightly higher than for female graduates with the unemployment rate for female graduates being 2.71% higher than the unemployment rate for males, although this difference is not statistically significant. The inactivity rate was the same for both male and female graduates. An explanation for the difference between male and female graduates is the fact that the distribution of males and females according to subjects is different and because of the impact of the crisis from 2010-14 on degree courses linked to the public sector. In 2011 the economic crisis affected specific degree programmes in Engineering and Architecture (subjects that are taken more by males), whereas in 2014 the impact was on subjects that are taken more by females, such as Teaching and Health Care and Assistance.

Data from official statistics repeatedly show that the higher the level of education, the smaller the difference between gender as regards the labour participation (activity) rate and employment rate (OECD, 2013). As can be seen for the population in Spain aged between 25-44, the higher the differential between the employment rate and inactivity rate between male and female graduates, the lower the level of education.

Technical specifications

PDF PDF Survey [ca]

Survey carried out: 2014

Participating universities: UB, UAB, UPC, UPF, UdG, UdL, URV, UOC, URL, UVic, UIC, UAO CEU and 24 affiliated institutions.

Reference population and sample: The reference population was 31,279 graduates (the 2010 cohort was used, except in the case of Medicine, in which there is a longer period of time for graduates to enter the labour market due to compulsory work experience-internship, it was the 2007 cohort) with an achieved sample of 17,337, which accounts for 55% of the total, with a sampling error of 0.51%.