First signs of recovery in unemployment figures for graduates

For the first time since 2008, the Maastricht University Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) found a decline in unemployment among certain groups of degree-holding graduates. The unemployment rate for full-time higher professional education (HBO) graduates fell by 1% (from 8% to 7%) in the autumn of 2014 compared to the 2013 measurement. A reduction from 13% to 11% was also noted among secondary vocational graduates (level 3). Despite these reductions, however, 2014 proved in many ways to be a difficult year for entry-level graduates. At 8.8%, the unemployment rate in 2014 was three times as high as in 2008 (2.8%). The percentage of young adults who are forced to accept positions that do not match their qualification level or discipline was also exceptionally high at 18%. These were the results of the ROA report ‘Graduates: From School to Labour Market 2014’.

Every year ROA conducts a survey among graduates. This report, conducted in late 2014, surveyed degree-holding graduates and early school dropouts in the 2012/13 academic year. The results pertain to the entire academic spectrum: full-time intermediate vocational education (MBO/BOL), intermediate vocational education ‘learning and working’ (BBL), lower vocational education (VMBO), higher secondary general education (HAVO), pre-university education (VWO) and full-time higher professional education. Key conclusions at a glance:

Degree-holding graduates

  • Mixed unemployment prognosis: Despite a slight increase in the unemployment rate among all degree-holding graduates, there appears to a promising turn of events following a long period of economic difficulty. For the first time in years, unemployment rates within specific academic levels appear to be declining.
  • Students happy with academic choice: 80% of degree-holding graduates would choose the same programme again.
  • Majority believe the programme gave them a good foundation on which to build knowledge and skills: 57% of MBO degree-holding graduates found that their programme gave them a good foundation on which to further develop their knowledge and skills (compared to 63% of HBO graduates).
  • Minority believe the programme was a good foundation for the labour market: 43% of MBO graduates and 47% of HBO graduates believe their programme gave them a good basis on which to enter the labour market. The recent economic crisis is still making its mark in this respect.
  • Young people critical of the available information about job prospects: Only 31% of HBO graduates is pleased or extremely pleased with the career prospects available to them. MBO graduates are also critical, with only 40% satisfied or extremely satisfied with the available information.
  • VMBO graduates satisfied with continuing education options, but critical about the available preparation options: 80% of VMBO students was partially to fully satisfied with the selected follow-up programme, but more critical about the available preparation options. Of those surveyed, 51% believed their VMBO programme prepared them well for their follow-up programme.

Early school dropouts

  • School and programme-related motivations were the main reason for early dropout rates: 40% of non-degree-holding early dropouts listed school and programme-related motivations as the reason for quitting. This percentage has declined slightly in recent years.
  • Two out of ten non-degree-holding early dropouts say they did not discuss quitting the programme with anyone. This group also appeared to leave relatively quietly.
  • One-third of early dropouts (32%) resumed their education eighteen months later. VMBO, HAVO and VWO dropouts are more likely to resume their education within eighteen months.

New definition of employed labour force

In 2015, the Central Statistical Office (CBS) decided to base its national statistics on the labour force as defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This means that ROA has adjusted its definition of the labour force and bases its 2015 labour market statistics on this new international definition. All figures presented in the report, ‘Graduates: From School to Labour Market 2014’ are based on the new definition, unless noted otherwise.

The website 'Kerncijfers  Schoolverlatersonderzoeken’ (in Dutch) contains a clear overview of all figures from ROA’s graduates survey. It also contains an overview of the most recent results and figures from previous surveys among degree-holding graduates in Dutch education. The website Core figures graduate surveys  contains a clear overview of all figures from ROA’s graduates survey. It also contains an overview of the most recent results and figures from previous surveys among degree-holding graduates in Dutch education.

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