Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari de Catalunya

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link Workshop Employers' opinions regarding university graduates: results, findings and challenges, 13 May 2015, CosmoCaixa

el Butlletí articles'

What do enterprises think about the employability and skills of recent graduates? The employers project elButlletí 87 (October 2017)

Main results of the employers survey. Butlletí 78 (July 2015)

The Ocupadors/Employers survey: what it is and why we need it Butlletí 71 (March 2014)

A survey was carried out on 1,325 employers having enterprises with a production activity in Catalonia, the objective being to provide information on employers’ opinions regarding the skills and training of recent graduates.

Employers' perceptions of the employability and skills of recent graduates in Catalonia

Ocupabilitat i competències dels graduats recents

The main aspects of the survey are grouped under:


Recent graduate recruitment

  • Around 60% of the organisations in the sample had hired recent graduates within the previous five years. This is an encouraging figure bearing in mind the context of economic crisis in recent years.
  • The main educational fields of recruited graduates were Economics, Business Management and Administration, and Business Sciences (34%); Production Engineering (31%); and Information and Communications Technologies (28%). Degrees in these subjects typically produce a high volume of graduates, although there is a high level of transversality across them in terms of employment.
  • Enterprises and institutions recruiting a high volume of graduates are large entities, 60% of their workers have a university degree and they are innovative in terms of their products, services and processes.
  • 91% of the employers in the sample consider a Bachelor’s degree to be an important factor in recruitment, whereas a Master’s (34%) or doctorate degree (8%) is less important for most organisations. The importance of a degree varies according to the size of the enterprise. 


Importance of the type of degree in recruitment according to the size of enterprise or institution

  • The recruitment factors assessed most highly by employers recruiting graduates were, on a scale from 0 to 10, a degree from a foreign university (6.6), work experience/placement (6,5), stays abroad (6.4) and the university’s standing (5.5).
  • 42% of employers recruiting graduates experienced difficulties in recruitment, the main reasons being a shortage of applicants with the necessary skills (60%); a shortage of graduates in a given field (30%); and a shortage of applicants willing to accept the salary being offered (20%).

Skills of recent graduates

  • On a scale from 0 to 10, the skills that employers in the sample considered to be most important were responsibility at work (8.9), the ability to learn (8.4) and teamwork (8.3). The least important were negotiation skills (6.4) and leadership (6.6).
  • Overall satisfaction with the skills of hired graduates was 7 out of 10 (medium to high). Although the rating varied according to the skill, all skills were given at least a pass mark of 5.
  • On a scale from 0 to 10, the skills that employers in the sample were most satisfied with were computer skills (7.9), responsibility at work (7.6), teamwork (7.5), theoretical learning (7.2) and the ability to learn (7.0). They were least satisfied with leadership (5.8) and negotiation skills (5.7).
  • The level of importance and satisfaction with graduates’ skills did not vary greatly according to the branch of economic activity or size of enterprise or institution, except for foreign language skills.

Comparison between the importance of and satisfaction with the skills of recent graduates

  • The branches of economic activity that least valued foreign language skills were construction and building (6.1), mass media (6.8) and business services (7.4).
  • Foreign language skills are more important in large enterprises (8.4), compared to medium enterprises (7.9) and small and micro-enterprises (7.1).
  • The largest differences between the degree of importance of and satisfaction with graduates’ skills were in problem solving (-1.7), practical skills (-1.6) and the ability to generate new ideas (-1.5). These skills are therefore considered to be where there is more room for improvement.

In-company/on-the-job training

  • 74% of organisations recruiting recent graduates had provided them with some kind of training within the enterprise or institution. This percentage varied according to the characteristics of the enterprise.
  • Large enterprises and institutions (87%) are those that provide the most training, compared to micro-enterprises (67%), which offer the least.
  • More innovative organisations (85%) provide more training than less innovative organisations (50%).
  • Organisations with greater flexibility in human resource management (84%) provide more training than those that are more inflexible (55%).
  • The main reasons for providing in-company/on-the-job training are the upgrading of specific skills and/or training within the sector (79%); the adaptation of new staff to the company or institution’s characteristics (65%); and improvements to transversal skills (48%). Other reasons include training due to lack of basic knowledge (34%) and the enhancement of foreign language skills (33%).

Employer-university collaboration

  • More than 60% of employers collaborate with universities on a frequent basis by offering work experience and placement to undergraduate students.
  • 86% of the employers in the sample had never been involved in producing university curricula.
  • According to employers in the survey, the best action for improving the employability of graduates is the incorporation of work experience as part of the curriculum.

Frequency of employer-university collaboration


For the survey questionnaires, four surveys were constructed: one generic survey for private enterprises; a second survey of teachers of primary and secondary education; a third survey of public administration bodies; and a fourth survey for the health sector.

Employers survey

PDF PDF Generic survey questionnaire. Employers perceptions of the skills of recent university graduates

PDF PDF Scientific committee for the Employers project

Conducted: October-December 2014

Reference population and sample: the reference population consisted of 16,757 enterprises and companies with production activity in Catalonia that could be contacted. Employers in the following branches of activity were excluded: public administration, education, culture and research, and health and welfare. The achieved sample size was 1,325 employers, accounting for a response rate of 7.91% and a sample error of 2.64%.

PDF PDF Enterprises participating in the Employers project according to sector

Survey of public administration bodies, education and health sector

Survey questionnaire Population Response Response rate Sample error
Public administration bodies 66 11 16.67% 27.74%
PDF Education [Catalan] 2,822 281 9.96% 5.66%
PDF Medicine [Catalan]        
PDF Nursing [Catalan]