ROA study on school graduates

The economic crisis is making it increasingly difficult for qualified school-leavers from upper secondary vocational education and graduates from higher professional education to enter the labour market: 14% of secondary school graduates are unemployed (11% in 2011) and 9% of full-time higher professional education graduates are unemployed (7% in 2011). These facts, and more, emerged from the report by the Maastricht University Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) entitled Schoolverlaters tussen onderwijs en arbeidsmarkt 2012 (‘School-leavers between education and labour market 2011’).

This annual ROA study surveyed graduates in late 2012 who had left school in the 2010/11 academic year. Well over 75,000 graduates were contacted, 32% of whom responded to the queries. The results concern nearly the full range of education: pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO), full-time school-based upper secondary vocational education (MBO-BOL), upper secondary vocational ‘learning and working’ education (MBO-BBL), senior general secondary education (HAVO), pre-university education (VWO) and higher professional education (HBO).

Key conclusions at a glance:

Labour market

• Unemployment among MBO-BOL and HBO graduates is on the rise: Since the economic crisis, unemployment rates have nearly tripled among recent MBO-BOL graduates (from 5% in 2008 to 14% in 2012) and doubled among recent HBO graduates (from 4% in 2008 to 9% in 2012).
• MBO-BBL and HBO-dual were least affected by the crisis: 3% of newly qualified MBO-BBL students and 1.8% of HBO-dual graduates were unemployed at the time of the survey. The unemployment rate among these two groups was only marginally higher than before the economic crisis.
• MBO-BOL graduates are worse off than MBO-BBL graduates: The former are more likely to be unemployed, have a greater chance of long-term unemployment, and are more often forced to accept jobs below their level or outside their field of expertise. This may reflect the fact that BBL students often work alongside their studies.
• Investing in HBO programme pays off: Working while studying, excellent academic performance and post-graduate education have a positive effect on a graduate’s employment opportunities during the crisis.

Opinions on chosen courses

• Programmes are becoming more challenging, with the exception of MBO: The number of graduates who view their programmes as sufficiently challenging is on the rise. This upward trend is not reflected in MBO programmes in general and MBO-BOL programmes in particular.
• More pressure for good preparation for further learning: 57% of graduates believe their programmes prepared them for further developing their knowledge and skills. The percentage of students who do not believe their programmes prepared them for further education has been on the rise in recent years.

Source: Maastricht University, 4 July 2013

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