05 décembre 2016

New government focuses on HE quality and employability

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...

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20 novembre 2016

EHEA - Employability - Introduction

Logo of the Bologna ProcessSince the Bologna Declaration to the latest Ministerial Conference in Yerevan, employability is one of the universal topics that have been continously worked on and developed within the Bologna Process.
"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...

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EHEA - Employability of graduates - Challenges for Higher Education Institutions

Logo of the Bologna ProcessHigher Education Institutions have to appropriately face the change of paradigm from the perspective of teachers to the students’ perspective. To cope with that change they should precisely and without ambiguity formulate expected learning outcomes. The learning outcomes define the framework for continuous evaluation of teaching and learning. These evaluations should enable higher education institutions to anticipate change and to be able to respond in an adequate way and in time.
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
For a choice of good practice, please refer also to thematically related activities. More...

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EHEA - Employability of graduates - The role of higher education

Logo of the Bologna ProcessTo succeed in shaping their individual lives, graduates are due to dispose of a bundle of generic and subject-specific competences. Higher education institutions are all-time experts in providing subject-specific knowledge but less experienced in cultivating “soft skills” at the same time. These generic skills (e.g. methodological, social and intercultural competences, ethical values) are essential for finding, retaining or developing the individual position in society. Study programmes and modules have to be designed in a way which leaves room for all the components that only as a whole build its profile. To meet the expectations not only of employers, public and private institutions but also of the actual and future students, higher education teachers and administrators themselves have to face continuous change.

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.

The Bucharest Communiqué, 2012. More...

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EHEA - Employability of graduates - The role of employers

Logo of the Bologna ProcessIn the literature, definitions of work-related skills and competences vary widely. Nevertheless it seems to be consensus that most employers distinguish between subject-specific knowledge and social skills. Whereas higher education institutions tend to equip their graduates with the necessary subject-specific and methodological knowledge, generic skills are not always included in the curricula as a matter of course. During the assessment of candidates, the majority of employer surveys deem social skills as essential. Graduates in addition to broad profession-related knowledge should dispose of analytical skills, the ability to communicate and increased awareness for problem solving.
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...

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EHEA - Employability of graduates - European Programmes

Logo of the Bologna ProcessIn the Erasmus+ programme guide, the European Commission European stipulates mobility:

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.

Not only projects in Key Action 1 (mobility), but also in Key Action 2 (e.g. Strategic Partnerships, Knowledge Alliances) aim at the improvement of employability. More...

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EHEA - Employability of graduates

Logo of the Bologna ProcessIncreasing the employability of graduates can not be done without a dialogue between employers and higher education. It results in the need of learning outcomes. The continouus evalution of teaching and learning challenging the Higher Education Institutions. More...

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EHEA - Employability - Thematically related activities

Logo of the Bologna ProcessEmployability - Thematically related activities

REFLEX project
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

KOAB Project
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...

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EHEA - Working Group on Employability 2007-2009

Logo of the Bologna ProcessFollowing up on the introduction of the three-cycle degree system, the Ministers asked BFUG to consider in more detail how to improve employability in relation to each of the cycles as well as in the context of lifelong learning. More...

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EHEA - Employability - Historical overview

Logo of the Bologna ProcessEmployability has been one of the main goals to be achieved with the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) from the very start. Even after the completion of the EHEA, many concerns still exist among employers, students, academics, higher education institutions and governments.

Ministerial Communiqués

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.
Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve Communiqué

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:

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