5 September 2017

Labour market for school leavers is better but still not ideal

School leavers are finding jobs more often and more quickly, but not always for the desired number of hours. They are also regularly working outside their professional field and at jobs below their educational level. These are some of the findings from the report entitled ‘Schoolverlaters tussen onderwijs en arbeidsmarkt 2016’ (‘School leavers between education and the labour market 2016’), published by Maastricht University’s Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market.

A year and a half after graduation, more and more graduates are finding their way to the labour market. The slight decline in unemployment, seen since 2014, strongly increased in 2016. This was especially true for graduates from work-based secondary vocational programmes. People who left school in 2016 also found work more quickly than school leavers in 2015. Gross hourly wages that were reduced by the financial crisis continue to rise, after a dip in 2014. Although they remain below pre-crisis levels, the gross wages for graduates at all levels of education slightly increased in 2016.

Hidden unemployment

However, the overall picture of steadily declining unemployment rates also has some nuances. There is hidden unemployment: working graduates who would like to work more hours than they do now. For instance, 36% of working graduates from secondary vocational programmes would like to work more hours. Of those with a contract for up to 11 hours, 75% would like to work more. Graduates also find that the professional field where they find work after their studies is not always the one they desire. About 60% of graduates from a secondary vocational programme or university of applied sciences work at the professional level for which they have been trained. That means that 40% of those graduates experience a mismatch between their education and their job.

Structural changes

Over the last 20 years, the distribution of labour across professions has especially increased among young people with degrees in economics or technical fields. Graduates from the Economics educational sector report that this often leads them to accept a job outside their professional field.  This may be due to an increasing imbalance between demand from the labour market and supply from education. That does not apply to graduates with a technical education. Although they are increasingly less likely to enter the classic ‘technical professions’, they report that they are often working at the appropriate level and within their professional domain. While a ‘push effect’ plays the main role for economics graduates, we see a ‘pull effect’ for graduates in technical fields. Technical graduates, especially at the higher vocational levels, are pulled from various sides by the process of technological progress within all sectors of the labour market.

Website with more figures

The ‘Kerncijfers Schoolverlatersonderzoeken’ (‘Key Figures from School Leavers Research’) website allows you to easily retrieve all the figures from the school leavers research conducted by the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA). In addition to an overview of the most recent results, the website offers an overview of the figures from previous measurements among school leavers who graduated from Dutch degree programmes.

Photo: Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0