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2017 study on access to the labour market for Bachelor’s degree graduates

Inserció lab graus 2017

AQU Catalunya is presenting the results of the 6th study on access to the labour market for graduates from Catalan universities. Promoted by the social councils of Catalan public universities, private universities and 31 attached centres, the survey is one of the largest and most representative to be conducted in Europe. In this edition, 17,458 graduates qualifying with the new Bologna-adapted Bachelor’s degrees were surveyed during the first quarter of 2017.

It is worth highlighting one of the primary conclusions drawn; namely, that Bologna is successful, in other words, adapting degree programmes to the European Higher Education Area yields results.

Document PDF Access to the labour market for graduates from Catalan universities

Enllaç extern Web page comparison of survey results among the HEIs running the degree programme.


The following conclusions may be drawn from this study:

Employment and suitability

The employment rate shows a recovery, as indeed does the suitability rate (i.e., the number of individuals in work performing university-level functions), due to the economic upturn:

  • 9 in every 10 individuals are in work three years after graduation; unemployment affects less than 1 in every 10 (6.6%). Compared to 2014, employment has increased by 5 percentage points while unemployment has fallen by the same amount.
  • 8 in every 10 graduates perform university-level functions, and 7 of these perform functions specifically linked to the Bachelor’s degree programme they followed. The data from 2017 shows an improvement of 4 percentage points compared to 2014, albeit still short of the peak reached in 2008 (85%).

Suitability of functions at work according to educational field in 2017


  • Moreover, according to data from the survey on the active population (APS), the employment rate among those who have a Bachelor’s-level education is 34 percentage points above the rate among those who only have a primary education (48.9% employment for those with a primary education compared to 82.6% for graduates). The Catalan university system constitutes a driving force for distinguished employability because the higher the education level achieved by university graduates the better their access to the labour market.

 Percentage of the population who are employed, unemployed or inactive according to education level (people aged 25-44 years – APS, 1st quarter 2017)


Public or private sector

  • 8 in every 10 individuals work in the private sector.The level of public employment at present (23%) is far from pre-recession levels (33%).

Quality of employment

Yearly earnings

An increase in remuneration and greater satisfaction may be seen with regard to work among graduates who perform university-level functions.

  • 8 in every 10 earn salaries of 2,000 euros or above. The number of those in work earning a salary of above 2,000 euros is up by 5 percentage points compared to 2014, while the percentage of those in work earning salaries of between 1,000 and 2,000 euros has fallen (by 3 percentage points).

Trend in earnings of those graduates in full-time work 


  • The highest salaries are in the field of engineering: 64% of graduates in the engineering field are on salaries of more than 2,000 euros, while the proportion on such salaries is no more than 37% in the other educational fields (for humanities it stands at 18%).

Earnings of those graduates in full-time work according to educational fields in 2017


Employment conditions

Employment conditions of university graduates have stagnated:

  • 5 in every 10 individuals are on a permanent contract while almost 4 in every 10 are on a temporary one. The percentage of open-ended contracts has fallen by 11 percentage points since 2008.
  • 3 in every 4 are in full-time work, although there is substantial variation between fields. Part-time recruitment varies from 8% in engineering to 37% and 40% in health and humanities, respectively.

Satisfaction with the current job

  • Graduates are largely satisfied with their job, particularly those who perform university-level functions. There are no major differences in general job satisfaction between academic fields (ranging from 7.4 for humanities graduates to 8.0 for health).

Increase in job satisfaction when performing university-level functions compared to those who do not in 2017 (on a scale of 0 to 10)


The job seeking process

  • Shorter time taken to find work: 7 in every 10 had accessed the labour market within three months of graduating while only 1 in every 10 graduates took more than a year to find their first job.
  • Contacts and the Internet are the primary methods for finding work. These two methods account for 60% of pathways to work in 2017, an increase of 5.3 percentage points compared to 2014.
  • Combining study and work is less frequent. This combination fell to pre-recession levels in 2017 (62%).
  • 34.7% of graduates who worked while studying were employed in fields related to their study programme. Working in a related job enhances the likelihood of performing specific functions in the future twofold compared to those who do not combine study and work.


  • Working abroad is a minority option: 3.6% of graduates are working abroad.
  • Europe is the primary destination for work: 80.6% of those who emigrate are working in Europe.

Satisfaction with the study programme

  • 7 in every 10 would take the same study programme again. According to educational fields, 80% of health graduates would take the same study programme again, while willingness to do so in the other four fields stands at around 69%.



  • There are major variations in willingness to take the same study programme again within each field.

Willingness to take the same study programme again according to educational fields in 2017 (highest and lowest figures within each educational area)


Quality of education

Level of education and its usefulness in work

The Bologna process (adaptation of degree programmes to the European Higher Education Area) yields results:

  • Bologna has had a positive impact on the quality of education and, indeed, this had already been perceived in earlier editions.
  • Specifically, a positive trend has been observed in the assessment of all skills, although oral expression, IT and languages stand out particularly, even though the latter skill is still a “pending subject” since it has the greatest difference between the level of education provided and the level needed for work.
  • Most skills that are deemed as highly useful are also highly regarded in their assessment.

Assessment of the level of education provided in the study programme (for all graduates) and its usefulness in work (only for those performing university-level functions) in 2017 (on a scale of 0 to 10)


Scope for improvement from the standpoint of an education shortfall

  • The greatest difference between the level of education provided and the level needed for work is still in languages.
  • Languages, IT, decision-making, leadership and management are the skills that show the greatest shortfall.


Do graduates go on to take further studies?

  • More than half of graduates take on further programmes at a higher university level: the number of years spent in education is increasing through postgraduate programmes, Master’s degrees, PhDs and other programmes.

Data sheet

PDF PDF Survey

Survey year: 2017

Participating universities: UB, UAB, UPC, UPF, UdG, UdL, URV, URL, UOC, UVic_UCC, UIC, UAO CEU and 31 attached centres.

Reference population and sample: the reference population is formed by 30,262 graduates (from the 2013 graduation year, with the exception of students of medicine. Due to the longer period for access to the labour market in this field, the qualified students surveyed in this case graduated in 2010); and the sample size was 15,563, accounting for a percentage of 51.4 and giving a sample error of 0.56%.

Results from previous editions

Below you will find links to previous editions of the survey on access to the labour market: