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Tertiary education and employment: Exploring the relationship between tertiary education, employment and overqualification across the EU
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The dominant human capital theory-based perspective that education is crucial for economic success and employment has affected national and regional policies in education and employment worldwide. The present thesis critically assesses the target for increased number of tertiary education graduates in the current EU agenda for growth and employment (Europe 2020 Strategy). This target presumes that employment is positively related with tertiary education qualifications, and that there is an increasing demand for highly educated workers in the EU labour markets.

Based on Eurostat data, our findings indicate that (i) more public spending on tertiary education does not seem to be associated with higher employment rates of graduates in the EU countries; (ii) in more than half of the EU28 member states, unemployment rates are not related with increased number of graduates; (iii) in most of the remaining EU countries, the increase in graduates is associated with higher graduates’ unemployment rates; (iv) increased number of tertiary education graduates relates with higher overqualification rates in the majority of the EU countries.

These results accord with previous studies which find that investment in education alone is inadequate to explain complex socio-economic phenomena, such as graduates’ employment/unemployment. Moreover, they further support previous research works, which question the proclaimed increased need for highly educated workers in the EU labour markets. This, in turn, suggests that common European policies which target at increasing horizontally the number of graduates may further deteriorate the existing problem of overqualification in the EU.

Without downplaying the importance of education and skills in employment, the current thesis contemplates that the disproportionate emphasis on the role of tertiary education in employment may falsely cultivate the perception that education per se can be the main solution for unemployment. Thus, it is likely to conceal the wider socio-economic reasons that influence a person’s ability to find, secure and advance in his/her job. Last, but not least, this perspective narrows down the role of tertiary education confining it to economic and employment purposes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 55
Keywords [en]
human capital theory, Europe 2020 Strategy, tertiary education, graduates’ employment, graduates’ unemployment, overqualification
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-158436ISRN: LIU-IBL/IMPALGC-A—19/002-SEOAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-158436DiVA, id: diva2:1333075
Subject / course
Pedagogical Science
Educational program
Teacher Education
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-07-12 Created: 2019-06-29 Last updated: 2019-07-12Bibliographically approved

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Papadopoulou, Maria
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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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