Full employment amongst master’s and PhD graduates and almost full employment amongst bachelor’s degree graduates, according to the 2023 survey on the employment outcomes of Catalan university graduates
Employment growth, more job stability, loss of purchasing power and English as the skill with the biggest training shortfall: These are some of the results of the 2023 Survey on the Employment Outcomes of Catalan University Graduates
AQU Catalunya presented the results of the 2023 Employment outcomes survey during a webinar attended by the Catalan Minister for Research and Universities, Joaquim Nadal; the rector of the Open University of Catalonia, Àngels Fitó; the president of the Social Council of the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC), Ms; Montserrat Guàrdia; the incoming president of AQU Catalunya, Francesc Xavier Grau, director of AQU Catalunya, Jaume Valls; and the coordinator of the study, Anna Prades.
The director of AQU Catalunya, Jaume Valls, presented the survey, pointing out that almost 41,000 responses were collected, representing 46% of the reference population: "We have a survey with a very low sampling error, which allows us to be convinced of the robustness of the results".
Following the presentation of the results, AQU Catalunya president, Francesc Xavier Grau, put the Agency's work into context: "Our main job is to assess and accredit the level of quality, but it also has the function of providing the agents of the system, mainly the universities, with relevant information that allows them to improve quality, as well as informing society".
Then came Montserrat Guàrdia, president of the UPC Social Council, who said: "A report is not only data but also actions based on these data", and "the more investment in universities, the greater the capacity to create jobs in companies in our country".
Àngels Fitó, President of the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), said: "In a context of labour market change, the new employability is characterised by three things: a more cross-functional, competency-based perspective that universities must integrate; a time perspective, as higher education has a lifelong learning need, and a systemic perspective, involving all actors". She also believes that "the social expectations of universities to provide employability has increased, although employment outcomes depend on other factors that go beyond this".
The Catalan Minister for Research and Universities, Joaquim Nadal, underlined the added value of having a series of employment outcomes surveys, as they provide knowledge of the university and research system in Catalonia. In this respect, Nadal stated that the results of the survey show that "it is not true that universities are unemployment factories; there is virtually full employment amongst bachelor's, master's and PhD graduates", and that there is no brain drain: "Not only is it decreasing, but a third of international students stay and work here". So there is a certain capacity to attract talent, as well as a greater capacity to retain talent than the system had last year.
In this regard, the minister highlighted the quality of the Catalan knowledge system: "The university education provided in Catalonia is high quality, competitive, and the people who study here find work". "The data show that it is a system that provides knowledge, considerable research capacity, attracts resources and provides work for the people who study here," he reiterated.
The Survey on the Employment Outcomes of Catalan University Graduates, which AQU Catalunya has been coordinating for more than 20 years, is the result of the interest of Catalan universities and higher education institutions in having employment indicators for the reflection and improvement of the quality of degree programmes. Among other objectives, the survey, which analyses the employment status of people who graduated 3-4 years ago, aims to match job supply and demand at university level and to inform and improve educational guidance.
More than 1,500 degree programmes participated in the 2023 edition, and almost 41,000 responses were collected, representing 46% of the reference population. The main results of this edition, which vary by degree programme, are as follows:
- Employment is growing: data show that the unemployment rate is at its lowest level since 2011, and master’s and doctoral degrees are even below the 5% threshold.
- Employment stability has increased: 7 out of 10 contracts are permanent.
- Loss of purchasing power: detected since 2014 as a result of inflation, despite nominal wage growth.
- Communication skills training shortfall: English remains the main skill to be improved, followed by written expression in the case of bachelor’s degrees and written and oral expression in the case of master’s degrees.
- The number of people who would repeat the same degree remains unchanged: 7 out of 10 in the case of bachelor’s and master’s degrees and 8 out of 10 in the case of PhDs.
- Web portals have more weight as a way of entry into the first job for bachelor’s degree graduates.
- Studying a master’s degree increases the chances of promotion and a better salary, as well as being a source of talent attraction and retention.
- Companies already employ more than half of recent PhD graduates, although 2 out of 3 say that they do not perform functions appropriate to their level of education.