By Jan Petter Myklebust. Higher education and research will have a prominent place in the programme of the new three-party coalition government, endorsed by the Queen of Denmark last Monday, and an early talking point is the replacement of Minister of Higher Education and Science Ulla Tørnæs with Søren Pind, the outgoing minister of justice. Read more...
"Employability" is used for the ability to purposefully use all the different competences in order to fulfil given professional tasks and/or to reach own professional targets and to adapt these competences to new environments and requirements. More...
Types of learning should become more and more differentiated in order to provide learning opportunities, including non-formal and informal learning, for a diversifying student population.
To take care of quality assurance and to create of transparency and trust, the use of standardised tools for the documentation of qualification levels, recognition processes, mobility is recommended.
Supporting tools and information that might be helpful:
- European Qualifications Frameworks
- National Qualifications Frameworks
- Sectoral Qualifications Frameworks
- Diploma Supplement
- ECTS Users' Guide (including the Information Package)
- European Standards and Guidelines
- National Regulations for Quality Assurance
Today’s graduates need to combine transversal, multidisciplinary and innovation skills and competences with up-to-date subject-specific knowledge so as to be able to contribute to the wider needs of society and the labour market.
Employers expect higher education to provide transparent offers of internationally oriented programmes designed in line with the respective qualifications frameworks and the learning outcomes defined therein. Employers' expectations rose with the focus on employability as they anticipated recruiting graduates with a proficiency of action, who expand their profiles continuously and self-responsibly.
Through national, regional and sectoral qualifications frameworks, the profiles are described in terms of learning outcomes and documented as qualifications. More...
to support learners in the acquisition of learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and competences) with a view to improving their personal development [...] and their employability in the European labour market and beyond.
The REFLEX project is a large-scale European survey among higher education graduates with partners from fifteen countries. It focuses on the demands that the modern knowledge society places on higher education graduates, and the degree to which higher education equips graduates with the competencies to meet these demands. Read more
In a German Tracer Studies Co-Operation Project (KOAB) higher education institutions work together on building a system of graduate surveys close to decision-making that are supposed to contribute to the quality development of higher education (course development, quality management, re-accreditation). Read more
OECD Skills Outlook 2015
The OECD Skills Outlook 2015 shows that improving the employability of youth requires a comprehensive approach. While education, social, and labour market policies have key roles to play, co-ordination between public policies and the private sector is also crucial. The publication, which builds on the results of the 2012 Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) presented in the first edition of the Skills Outlook, also presents examples of successful policies in selected countries. Read more
University Business Cooperation
The European Commission is organising a University Business Forum, held almost every year since 2008, which brings together higher education institutions, companies, business associations, intermediaries, and public authorities. The Forum looks at the current situation in university-business co-operation and at what policy initiatives and programmes are needed to support this. The last Forum took place in Brussels in 2015 and the next is being organised for spring 2017. A thematic forum with special emphasis on employability has been held in Berlin in 2014. Read more
EUA DOC-CAREER Project
The European University Association has initiated projects dealing with employability in the context of doctoral education: DOC-CAREERS I (2006-2008) and DOC-CAREERS II (2009-2012).
The projects achieved greater awareness of skill developments and mobility strategies in doctoral training in Europe with a view of career development and employability; promoted the benefits of tracking doctorate holders' careers; gained empirical insights for reforming doctoral programmes; improved regional cooperation and networking in a dialogue with different potential employers; widened the dialogue with potential employers; assisted the building of lasting partnerships, networks and joint initiatives aimed at improving collaboration between private and public sectors. Read more
Eurydice report 2014
A Eurydice report entitled Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: Access, Retention and Employability was published on 22 May 2014. This is the second report in a series following the evolution of the modernization agenda for higher education in Europe, following a 2011 report on funding and the social dimension. Read more
Graduates on the German labour market
In May 2016, the German Academic Exchange Service together with the Cologne Institute for Economic Research published the most recent research on Graduates with international experience in the German labor market.The study focuses on the importance of international mobility experiences of graduates for their transition into the labour market and includes a broad literature review. Read more. More...
Bologna Declaration - 1999
In 1999, the Bologna declaration defined as a goal of the Bologna Process
to promote European citizens employability and the international competitiveness of the European higher education system.
Prague Communiqué - 2001
The ministers expressed their appreciation of the contributions toward developing study programmes combining academic quality with relevance to lasting employability and called for a continued proactive role of higher education institutions.
Berlin Communiqué - 2003
In 2003, ministers stressed
the necessity of ensuring a substantial period of study abroad [...] so that students may achieve their full potential for European identity, citizenship and employability.
Bergen Communiqué - 2005
In 2005, ministers urged
universities to ensure that their doctoral programmes promote interdisciplinary training and the development of transferable skills, thus meeting the needs of the wider employment market.
London Communiqué - 2007
When Ministers met in 2007 in London, they affirmed employability to be one of the major goals of the Bologna Process:
Building on our rich and diverse European cultural heritage, we are developing an EHEA based on institutional autonomy, academic freedom, equal opportunities and democratic principles that will facilitate mobility, increase employability and strengthen Europe’s attractiveness and competitiveness.
Having identified employability as one of the priorities for the period leading to the next ministerial conference in April 2009, they asked the
BFUG to consider in more detail how to improve employability in relation to each of these cycles as well as in the context of lifelong learning.
To this purpose, the Bologna Follow-up Group set up a working group to provide a report on how to improve employability in relation to each of the three cycles.
Working Group on Employability Report to Ministers 2009
As one basis for the report the employability working group conducted a short informal survey on the issue of employability among the members of the Bologna Follow-up Group.
Country Survey on Employability (WG 2007-2009) - answers
The group defined employability as “the ability to gain initial meaningful employment, or to become self-employed, to maintain employment, and to be able to move around within the labour market”.
Leuven / Louvain-la-Neuve Communiqué - 2009
In 2009, ministers stated that
employability empowers the individual to fully seize the opportunities in changing labour markets. We aim at raising initial qualifications as well as maintaining and renewing a skilled workforce through close cooperation between governments, higher education institutions, social partners and students.
With labour markets increasingly relying on higher skill levels and transversal competences, higher education should equip students with the advanced knowledge, skills and competences they need throughout their professional lives. Employability empowers the individual to fully seize the opportunities in changing labour markets.
Budapest / Vienna Declaration - 2010
In 2010, the EHEA has been launched and the ministers committed to the full and proper implementation of the agreed objectives and the agenda for the next decade
[...] to accomplish the reforms already underway to enable students and staff to be mobile, to improve teaching and learning in higher education institutions, to enhance graduate employability, and to provide quality higher education for all.
Bucharest Communiqué - 2012
In 2012, based on three goals (provide quality higher education for all, enhance graduates’ employability, strengthen mobility), the Ministers committed
to enhance the employability and personal and professional development of graduates throughout their careers.
Finally, the Ministers pointed at the learning mobility as
essential to ensure the quality of higher education, enhance students’ employability and expand cross-border collaboration within the EHEA and beyond.
Yerevan Communiqué - 2015
In May 2015, ministers defined employability as one out of four priorities for the period until 2018:
Fostering the employability of graduates throughout their working lives in rapidly changing labour markets - characterized by technological developments, the emergence of new job profiles, and increasing opportunities for employment and self-employment - is a major goal of the EHEA. We need to ensure that, at the end of each study cycle, graduates possess competences suitable for entry into the labour market which also enable them to develop the new competences they may need for their employability later in throughout their working lives.
Conferences and Seminars
In 2004, Employability and its links to the objectives of the Bologna process was the first Bologna Seminar to discuss employability.
Participants at that time agreed on a definition of employability as "a set of achievements – skills, understandings and personal attributes – that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy".
Employability was and is included in the discussion of many other topics of the Bologna process (e.g. high quality education, mobility, qualifications frameworks). Nevertheless, a number of Bologna Seminars have been explicitly devoted to this aspect: