1 gmt autumn 2010 graduate market trends Inside this issue: Exclusive interviews with European commissioners Androulla Vassiliou and László Andor Youth on the move Creative futures for creative graduates Real Prospects 2010 What is the value of a humanities degree Erasmus student work placements Futuretrack Stage 2 Information and research into graduate employment and careers
2 Autumn 2 in this issue Note From the Editor News In Brief EU policy and practice Androulla Vassiliou and László Andor Creative Graduates Creative Futures Will Hunt Great Expectations: Findings from Real Prospects 2010 Holly Higgins What is the value of a Humanities degree? Dr Clare Saunders and Professor Mark Addis Erasmus Student Work Placements Futuretrack Stage 2: A new classification of HEIs Jane Artess Note from the editor Welcome to the edition of Graduate Market Trends. As ever, we have brought together some of the leading experts and opinion-formers in higher education and graduate employment. We begin with two exclusive interviews with European Commissioners Androulla Vassiliou and László Andor which explore the creation of an inclusive and integrated European higher education and graduate labour market, and the anticipated impact of the new Youth on the Move initiative on young people s employability and employment. Finally, with the help of the British Council, I have put together a survey of the new Erasmus work placement experience. The online edition of GMT provides an additional feature: Jane Artess uses her insider s knowledge to highlight some of the thornier methodological implications of Futuretrack HECSU s fascinating longitudinal survey of students and graduates. I need not say how invaluable your comments and contributions are, so please keep them coming. In Creative Graduates, Creative Futures, Will Hunt uses recent groundbreaking research by the Institute of Employment Studies to analyse the complexities of creative graduates career trajectories. Real Prospects, the only national survey of the reality of graduate employment, is into its second year. In gmt Great Expectations, Real Prospects analyst Holly Higgins sets out the 2010 survey s key findings. Humanities degrees are perennially under the microscope. Dr Clare Saunders and Professor Mark Addis ask, What is the value of a humanities degree? I won t give away their conclusions, except to say that the authors are determined to put humanities graduates back onto the UK skills and employability agenda. Aphrodite Papadatou
3 In brief Youth on the Move : new European Commission initiative aims to promote the mobility of students and trainees and to improve the employment situation of young people across the EU The press conference was held by Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou on September 15th. More on Youth on the Move in this issue s exclusive interviews with Commissioners Vassiliou and Andor. Global Employment Trends for Youth: new report published by the International Labour Organisation (August 2010): Latest research presents global and regional labour market trends for youth and specifically explores how the global economic crisis has exposed the vulnerabilities of young people around the world. High Fliers research shows a sharp increase in graduate jobs at Britain s top employers for the Class of 2010 (June 2010) Graduate recruitment has expanded in almost every major industry and employmet area in 2010 (up by 17.9%), according to recent High Fliers research. The report also highlights that there was an unprecedented number of applications for this year s vacancies (up by 7%), suggesting fierce competition from previous cohorts. Changes in Student Choices and Graduate Employment : new HECSU report published as part of the second strand of Universities UK s From Recession to Recovery project and supported by HEFCE (September 2010) HECSU considers the recessionary (and postrecessionary) trends in student choices and current and future graduate employability. New report from the Council for Industry and Higher Education (July 2010) A new report from CIHE, supported by Research Councils UK (RCUK), looks at the role university research has in contributing to economic impact by supporting companies' innovative processes. UKCES: the latest reports that have somewhat tickled GMT s curiosity... Annual Report (July 2010). Does what it says on the box. Careering Through the Web (July 2010). Aims to improve our understanding of the uses and potential of the internet for providing career development and career support services. Labour Market Information (LMI), Information Communications and Technologies (ICT) and Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) (July 2010). Aims to analyse the interaction, roles and potential of the three topics. QAA publishes the second series of Outcomes from Institutional Audit Paper : Academic and personal advice, guidance and support for students (including postgraduate research students)(july 2010) QAA considers audit reports from 59 HEIs, published between December 2004 and August 2006, and identifies examples and methods of good practice. New National Student Survey (NSS) results show four years of increasing satisfaction (July 2010). The report covers the period Meanwhile, in Europe... European staff and students agree that higher education should centre more on students. European higher education staff and students unions have expressed agreement that higher education should move further towards the needs of the student. This is a key finding from the survey by the European Students Union (ESU) and the staff union Education International (EI). The survey also found that while no higher education staff union thought staff attitudes were a problem, more than one-in-three students' unions found negative staff attitudes were a barrier to student-centred learning. GMT 3
4 4 EU policy and practice: Towards an integrated and inclusive European higher education and graduate labour market European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou talks exclusively to GMT about the effects of recent developments in EU higher education policy, and her hopes for the future. Recent developments in the UK s higher education and skills and employability agendas, specifically with relation to changes in HE ring-fenced funding and the skills priorities of a growth economy 1, show that the European Union s efforts are relevant at national and not just pan- European level. Indeed UK policy is increasingly reflecting the priorities advanced by the European employability and skills agenda, which seeks the creation of a mobile and highly skilled European workforce by Androulla talks to Aphrodite Papadatou about the impact of the 1999 Bologna Process in improving graduate social mobility within and across the labour markets of European member states, and the recent work of the European Commission for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth in promoting working partnerships between higher education institutions (HEIs) and industry. AP: What journey has the Bologna Process followed since 1999, and how is it supported by the European Commission? AV: The Bologna Process is a European success story an ambitious intergovernmental project which has grown from 29 countries in 1999 to 47 today. It has succeeded because it puts the student at the centre of higher education and because it has made the different higher education systems in Europe more comparable and compatible. The European Commission is a full and active partner in the Bologna Process and supports it through its funding programmes, policy input and initiatives for quality, transparency and mobility in higher education. The last decade has brought about a major expansion in higher education, accompanied by significant reforms in degree structures and quality assurance. My view is that we must continue to modernise and increase the quality of higher education, as well as
5 making it more accessible for all citizens. The Commission s Europe 2020 strategy will provide further impetus for this, in particular by encouraging measures which aim to increase the overall number of young people in higher education or equivalent in the EU from less than a third today, to at least 40%. Several key studies supported by the European Commission have been published in the run up to the 2009 Bologna Ministerial Conference and 2010 launch of the European Higher Education Area ; these provide valuable insights into the progress and effects of the Bologna reforms. In addition, the Commission has tested the water with specific surveys amongst those most closely involved such as university staff, national student unions and individual students. A Eurobarometer opinion survey conducted last year among higher education students, for example, shows that they overwhelmingly want wider access to higher education and that universities should open up co-operation with the world of work and to lifelong learning. The European Commission also funds the Eurostudent project which collects and compares data on the social and economic conditions of student life in Europe. All of this allows me to say with confidence that reforms have created new opportunities for universities and students. of their studies. Universities can play a key role in advancing social mobility. They must modernise, and the fact that governments, not only in Europe, but also around the world, widely recognise this, gives the Bologna Process the vital support it needs for success. AP: How does the Commission for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth presently address the higher education social mobility agenda? AV: I am committed to promoting the improvement of educational opportunities for EU citizens and to advancing and supporting the modernisation of higher education. With this in mind, in autumn 2010, I will present my Youth on the Move initiative, one of the flagships of Europe s 2020 strategy. The aim is to improve the performance of our universities and make them more attractive internationally. We want to raise the overall quality of all levels of education and training in the EU, combining both excellence and equity, promote learning mobility for all young people, and improve their opportunities on the labour market. It is clear that Europe cannot compete on cost Europe can only stay competitive by investing in its people and their capacity to innovate. Our education and training systems have to equip our citizens with the right mix of knowledge, skills and competences, allowing them to find their way in an increasingly complex and fast changing world. GMT 5 AP: How has the Bologna Process so far affected fair access to European HEIs and the graduate labour market? AV: The Bologna Process has undoubtedly helped to make higher education in Europe more compatible and comparable. Among other things, it has made Europe a more attractive destination for students from other continents. While there is still some work to do to meet all the objectives that were set in 1999, we need to continuously move forward to address new challenges, particularly in the current economic crisis. Not enough of our talented young people enter universities; not enough adults have seen a university from the inside; we do not manage to get enough of our migrant population into higher education; and too few students include a period of study abroad as part Higher education plays a particularly important role in this context. Universities and other institutions provide a unique opportunity for innovation, education and research to come together. I hope, for instance, that more students and universities will join forces with the Knowledge and Innovation Communities set up by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). Our universities and the EIT are crucial in supporting us to put our ambitions for smarter and more inclusive growth into practice in the coming decade. To develop their potential to the full, universities have to open up to the needs of society, and in particular to the needs of the world of work. 1 In March 2000 the Lisbon European Council set the goal for the EU to become, the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustaining economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion by To achieve this, the EU member states pledged to increase investment in Research & Development (R&D) to an average of 3% of GDP in the same time frame European Commission, Towards a European Research Area, COM(2000)6, The EU's new strategy for sustainable growth and jobs was launched in the middle of the recent economic crisis. It builds on the Lisbon Agenda by putting innovation and green growth at the heart of its blueprint for competitiveness. Online PDF at:
6 6 AP: What other initiatives has your department recently developed with respect to promoting working partnerships between European universities and industry, especially with regards to SMEs? AV: New trends in the labour market and new technologies change the demands on university graduates and will continue to do so in the decades ahead. To maintain and improve quality of life in Europe, workers must be able to constantly upgrade what they have learned. This is all the more important in view of the demographic developments in Europe. It is therefore necessary to improve and strengthen dialogue and the co-operation between higher education and the world of work. Better and more intense co-operation stimulates the exchange and sharing of knowledge in both the business context and the academic context. Students profit from being exposed to real problems and solutions through relevant curricula and placements. This enriches their learning and prepares them for future employment. Working together on a regular basis and with a longterm perspective creates trust between universities and businesses and can lead to ambitious partnerships and collaborations that benefit both sides. The University-Business Forum is an initiative launched by the Commission, in support of this kind of cooperation. The Forum provides a platform for structured dialogue and exchange of good practice. I am pleased that we have been able to make these fruitful encounters a regular feature. The latest forum took place in May this year addressing such issues as the co-operation between universities and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the potential to collaborate in support of regional development and better quality of education. Participants very much appreciate this platform on European level. At this year s forum we heard firsthand experience of the particular challenges for universities and SMEs to engage in fruitful cooperation. The diverse nature of SMEs means that universities can find it harder to respond to their individual needs in comparison to larger organisations. SMEs potentially demand more of universities and at the same time may be able to give less time and effort to sustaining links and relationships. It is therefore important to find the right incentive systems. One participant underlined the importance of accepting and building on diversity when it comes to this type of partnerships. Not every university can be among the Top 200 universities in the world, and not every region can become a new Silicon Valley. But building on their own strengths and competitive advantages universities should be open to the needs of society. Establishing closer links with the world of work should be a goal for every one of them. For more information on the Commissioner s work, and useful links, go to: In the second part of our feature European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, talks exclusively to Aphrodite Papadatou about Youth on the Move and its anticipated impact on young people s employment and employability in line with the Europe 2020 agenda. AP: What specific initiatives will Youth on the Move promote to advance social mobility and fair access to higher education and the graduate labour market across the European Union, and how will these be adopted in pan-european and national policy? LA: Today five million young people in the EU who would like to work cannot find a job. This is neither acceptable, nor sustainable. As part of the EU's new strategy for the next ten-year Europe 2020, we have put forward a new initiative "Youth on the Move" which proposes policies with a clear focus on the needs of young people. It also covers policies that follow the sequence of steps young people have to make in their transition from education to work and aims to help provide support to those who have difficulties in making these steps. We have set out a clear set of actions. As part of Youth on the Move, we will focus on the role of the public employment services to improve both career counselling and guidance on labour market, since this is critical to finding a job. We also want to encourage young entrepreneurs, and with the new European Progress Micro-finance Facility, young people will have easier access to financing for setting up their own business. In addition, a pilot project
7 7 called Your first EURES job will provide advice and financial support to young jobseekers who want to work abroad and to companies (particularly SMEs) recruiting young mobile workers. In terms of monitoring measures, there will be a close monitoring of the overall employment situation in the EU, to which youth also contributes and the results will be published in the Annual Growth Survey, the first one to appear in January Linked to this, the Commission and Member States are also developing a joint assessment framework for Europe 2020 which will look at youth employment progress. The new EU strategy for the coming decade, Europe 2020 sets a specific employment target of the population aged between 20 and 64 that should increase from the current 69% to at least 75% by 2020, including through the greater involvement of older workers, women and also of course, young people. AP: In what ways will Youth on the Move enhance the Europe 2020 skills agenda? LA: Europe s future prosperity depends on its young people. They represent a fifth of the EU's current population and their skills and abilities will be decisive in achieving the EU s goal of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Today, finding a job is what millions of young Europeans are most concerned about. The Commission wants to help finding the answers to their concerns. Making sure young people have the best skills in a changing labour market is crucial part of this challenge. Youth on the Move specifically aims to strengthen support to Europe s young people at all levels, to increase their job perspectives, their skills, their learning mobility and access to higher education. For example, the Commission is determined to work to integrate and enhance the EU s mobility, university and researchers programmes, and link them up with national programmes and resources. Youth on the Move will also help to step up the modernisation agenda of higher education, explore ways of promoting entrepreneurship through mobility programmes for young professionals, and contribute to promoting young people s entry into the labour market through apprenticeships, stages, or other work experience, including the new Your first EURES Job scheme. AP: What sources can UK stakeholders (HEIs, employers, the government, regional governments, independent career advisory bodies, young people, etc) use to access these initiatives? LA: We have just adopted the Youth on the Move flagship initiative so the next step is to discuss in detail with the governments of the Member States how to best ensure that as many young people as possible can best benefit from the actions set out in our proposal. We hope that this initiative will receive the governments full support, also in identifying which stakeholders are best suited and placed to deliver. For more information about Youth on the Move, and on how to get involved go to: 1 In March 2000 the Lisbon European Council set the goal for the EU to become, the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustaining economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion by To achieve this, the EU member states pledged to increase investment in Research & Development (R&D) to an average of 3% of GDP in the same time frame European Commission, Towards a European Research Area, COM(2000)6, The EU s new strategy for sustainable growth and jobs was launched in the middle of the recent economic crisis. It builds on the Lisbon Agenda by putting innovation and green growth at the heart of its blueprint for competitiveness. Online PDF at:
8 8 Creative Graduates Creative Futures In this overview of the Institute of Employment Studies research project on creative graduates early career trajectories, author Will Hunt 1 highlights the need for mixed longitudinal research in capturing creative graduates career development. Such methodology points to the insufficiency of destinations data alone in accounting for the diversity and complexity of creative careers, as well as for the motivating factors behind creative graduates career choices choices which are often at odds with starting salary indices of mainstream graduate recruitment research. 1.1 Background and methodology Creative Graduates Creative Futures is a major study of the early career patterns of creative graduates, conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) on behalf of a partnership of 26 HEIs led by the University of the Arts London and supported by the Council for Higher Education in Art and Design (CHEAD). The research sought to improve understanding of the early development of creative careers and the extent to which a higher education (HE) in the creative arts prepares graduates for the world of work. The research was carried out in two phases, which together provide a wealth of data on creative graduates early careers. Phase One consisted of a postal survey of all UK domiciled and international graduates from first degree and foundation degree courses in art, design, craft and media, graduating from the 26 HEIs between 2002 and The survey was conducted in the autumn of A total of 3,478 responses were received with the sample profile reflecting that of the eligible population. Findings from this phase were published in January Phase Two consisted of an follow-up survey in September 2009, and a number of in-depth telephone interviews in March These explored graduates career stories in more detail and gained an insight into their experiences during the recession. Findings from this phase will be published later this year. This article presents some of the key findings from phase one of the research focusing on graduates careers and employment outcomes in the four to six years after graduation. 1.2 Capturing creative careers In the modern workplace, traditional notions of graduate level jobs and a linear career path are perhaps no longer appropriate with graduates today engaging in a wide range of activities and occupations, and increasingly working in small enterprises, and on temporary contracts or on a freelance basis. This is particularly the case for creative graduates; and there are concerns that traditional studies of graduate destinations which focus on capturing just one work activity in the first few months after graduation (or more recently, up to four years after graduating 3 ) do not adequately capture the diversity of experiences of creative graduates (including wider definitions of work) nor allow sufficient time for them to establish a career. To capture this diversity, a questionnaire was designed to give creative graduates the opportunity to record all
9 9 the activities they had engaged in since graduation and to give details of up to three work activities that they were engaged in at the time of the survey. This approach allowed for the incidence of portfolio working in creative careers Creative graduates work in complex ways One of the key findings that emerged from the analysis was the extent of portfolio working and portfolio careers amongst creative graduates (fig. 1.1). Nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents giving details of their work reported two or more jobs or work related activities, while 52 per cent reported only the one job or work activity. Figure 1.1: Number of work-related activities identifying portfolio work Base: All those reporting work-related activities (and answering the question), N=2,663 Source: Creative Graduates Creative Futures, IES, 2010, Table App. C2.1 For creative graduates with just one job or work related activity, employment tended to be full-time (88 per cent), and on a permanent basis (66 per cent), whereas for those with two or more activities employment could take a number of forms and combinations. For those reporting two jobs or work related activities, in most cases (66 per cent) they combined a full-time job or work activity with another part-time job or activity. Working two part-time jobs was also relatively common, with more than a quarter (28 per cent) working in this way. In terms of employment contract, creative graduates most commonly combined permanent work and self-employment (38 per cent), self-employment and temporary work (15 per cent), permanent employment and unpaid/voluntary work (15 per cent), and self-employment and unpaid/ voluntary work (13 per cent). Creative graduates with more complex portfolio work (i.e. with three or more jobs) also had a wide range of working patterns. The most common patterns were to combine one full-time job with two or more part-time jobs (48 per cent did this), or to have three or more part-time jobs or activities (40 per cent). Again, there was a frequent incidence of self-employment with 86 per cent having at least one self-employed or freelance job often combined with either permanent, temporary or voluntary employment. Permanent work was also common for this group, with 58 per cent reporting permanent work (this was generally recorded as their main job). However, it is unpaid/voluntary work that is a particularly striking feature of more complex working patterns: 67 per cent of creative graduates with three or more jobs work on a voluntary or unpaid basis in at least one of their jobs (though generally recorded as their third job). This perhaps suggests that more complex forms of working allow creative graduates to take on unpaid work as an additional activity or to continue with their creative practice Creative graduates get creative work At the time of the survey more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of creative graduates who were in work, reported some form of creative occupation and a similar proportion (77 per cent) reported working in the creative industries; and many had undertaken work directly related to their degree at some stage since graduation. Indeed the occupations reported by creative graduates largely reflected their subject of study: graphic artists, designers and illustrators (18 per cent of jobs); fine artists (14 per cent of jobs); fashion and textiles designers (five per cent of jobs); and media production and photography (five per cent of jobs). However, teaching was also an important occupation for creative graduates with nearly one-infive (18 per cent) working as a teacher. For many, teaching provides a stable source of income enabling them to continue with other creative work, and half of those working as a teacher also reported a creative occupation. Both stability of income and ability to continue with their creative practice were key factors in the career decisions of creative graduates Creative graduates have entrepreneurial spirit Self-employment and freelance working was a key feature of creative graduates early careers. More than two fifths (45 per cent) of all creative graduates had worked freelance at some stage since graduation and a quarter (25 per cent) had run their own business. Self-employment was still relatively common at the time of the survey, with nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of
10 10 graduates running their own business and (23 per cent) working freelance. This type of employment was particularly common amongst those with two or more jobs and so is an important part of portfolio working. Self employment also continues to be an aspiration for the future, with three in five creative graduates anticipating either running their own business or working freelance in the next five years Unpaid and low paid work is a common feature of creative careers Working unpaid or on a voluntary basis is a recognised strategy for finding work in the creative industries, and is becoming a more common recruitment method for employers. This try before you buy culture is a growing feature of the graduate employment landscape across all subjects, and longer internships to gain valuable post-graduation work experience are on the increase and it is not unusual to hear of people working unpaid for up to six months or even a year. Two out of five creative graduates (42 per cent) reported some form of voluntary or unpaid work since graduation and one-in-ten (nine per cent) were doing voluntary work at the time of the survey. In the main, voluntary/unpaid working was combined with other employment (either permanent work, selfemployment or temporary work) as a secondary activity. Few were doing voluntary work as their only work activity. Low levels of pay were also common amongst creative graduates during the early stage of their careers (fig 1.2). More than half of those in work reported an annual gross income of less than 20,000 across all jobs and a third were earning less than 15,000 up to six years into their careers, which is below the average graduate starting salary (from any discipline). Working in a portfolio career would appear to be a disadvantage in terms of earnings: 48 per cent of those with at least three jobs and 42 per cent of those with two jobs earned less than 15,000, compared to 22 per cent of those with just one job But satisfaction levels are high Despite low levels of pay amongst creative graduates the majority remained positive about their careers, and generally had high levels of job satisfaction. Overall, three-quarters (77 per cent) indicated that they were satisfied with their current work situation; the same proportion (77 per cent) felt that they were able to be creative in their work; and eight out of ten (79 per cent) felt that their work was relevant to art, design and media. Creative graduates with higher earnings tended to be more satisfied with their work situation. However, other factors significantly associated with work satisfaction were: working in a creative occupation or the creative industries; feeling able to be creative in your work; and feeling that your work is relevant. Considerations other than money appeared to play a role in the careers of creative graduates (fig 1.3). When asked to indicate how important they felt a range of factors were in making decisions about their careers, development and work-life balance, the following factors were the most important: being able to develop and make full use of knowledge and skills; being able to pursue their creative practice; having time with family and friends; and being able to try Figure 1.2: Gross personal annual income for graduates in work Base: All those reporting work-related activities, N=2,598 Source: Creative Graduates Creative Futures, IES, 2010, Table App. F10.1
11 11 new things. Earning a good salary was one of the least important but creative graduates were concerned about having a stable or regular source of income. Conclusions/implications The research shows that creative graduates gain paid employment, find creative work and experience work satisfaction in their early careers. However, they work in complex ways combining self employment and unpaid work with other work to allow them to continue with their creative practice, to use and develop their skills, gain access to networks of contacts and have control over their work. Their achievements, and their flexibility and resourcefulness are likely to be overlooked in traditional studies of graduate destinations. These studies tend to place too great an emphasis on earnings and gaining a permanent job, neither of which figure to any great extent in the career decisions of creative graduates. Figure 1.3: Career motivators importance of factors in career decisions Making full use of my knowledge and skills Being able to continue to improve knowledge and skills Having a stable/regular source of income Being able to pursue/maintain my creative practice Having time with my family and friends Being able to try new things Being recognised/respected by my peers Having time to pursue hobbies/interests outside the workplace To identify myself as an artist/designer Being able to contribute to society/help others Earning a good salary Working with people from different disciplines Being able to work for myself Base: All respondents (answering the question) Source: Creative Graduates Creative Futures, IES, 2010, Table App. E6.1 1 Will Hunt is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Employment Studies. His main research interests are in higher education and the graduate labour market. He is researcher and co-author of Creative Graduates Creative Futures. 2 Ball L, Pollard E, Stanley N (2010) Creative Graduates Creative Futures, Council for Higher Education in Art and Design and University of the Arts London 3 The Longitudinal Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Institutions (L DLHE) Survey
12 12 Great Expectations: Findings from Real Prospects 2010 Real Prospects analyst Holly Higgins outlines the main findings of the 2010 survey, and pulls together helpful tips on graduate recruitment management and career advice. The Real Prospects 1 survey is designed to help employers evaluate the ways they recruit, select and develop graduate employees. It is the only survey to explore the reality of graduate employment and it addresses a range of issues including: recruitment and selection, training and development, support and supervision, pay and progression, and work-life balance. The findings provide a unique insight into the experiences of more than 14,500 graduate employees. Great expectations My current employment offers me all of the following (which was my tick list for the kind of job I was looking for): a challenging environment; intellectual stimulation; a high degree of autonomy; strong network of support; opportunities to progress outside the scope of my regular day job (Management Trainee who studied Classics, 2010) Few students begin to think about looking for a job until their final year, so when they finally turn their attention to life after university they often have unrealistic expectations about the kinds of jobs employers will hire them to do. Graduates who feel burdened by their student loan are frustrated to discover that they are still expected to apply for entrylevel jobs. While they resent the fact that after three years of study they are still earning less than the median wage, graduates are not necessarily disillusioned with higher education as a whole 2. It is more a case of being disappointed with the reality of working life. However, while unrealistic expectations can lead to despair and disillusionment, graduates who go into the workplace knowing what to expect and how to succeed will be both ambitious and motivated. Findings from the Real Prospects survey suggest that managing students pre-entry expectations is the key to ensuring graduates enter the labour market with a realistic understanding of working life. The recruitment process what to expect My employer is great at hooking people in. At the beginning everything is great and opportunities are dangled in front of you constantly to keep you keen and full of that feeling of being part of something big. This does not last very long and I would liken it to a party political election promise... it s all full of promises to begin with but there is very little to back it up (Scientist who studied Biochemistry, 2010) When graduates first start to look for jobs they tend to be looking for roles which offer them plenty of opportunities to develop their skills and gain the experience they need to progress further in their chosen career. One in five of the graduates who took part in Real Prospects applied to their employer because they thought the job role sounded interesting. They were attracted to roles that looked challenging and interesting and were disappointed if a job turned out to be less stimulating than they expected. Unfortunately some recruiters made promises during
13 13 the selection process that they were never going to be able to keep, and ended up employing graduates who quickly became disillusioned with both the company and the job. Real Prospects graduates were attracted to employers who made an effort to engage with what applicants wanted from the job, but they also liked them to be honest about what the organisation could offer in terms of training, development and progression. For employers, the key to recruiting, and retaining, the right graduate employee is to ensure that they know exactly what they are going to be doing before they get there. How can employers better manage applicants expectations? Provide applicants with a detailed description of the job role. If recruiting graduates for a training programme, give them some idea as to what previous graduate trainees have gone on to do next. Don t promise graduates plenty of opportunities for progression if these are unlikely to materialise but do suggest ways graduates will be able to progress within their job role (e.g. managing projects, working collaboratively with more senior colleagues). Use interviews and assessment days to give graduates as much information as you can about the organisation s ethos and the way it operates. Be realistic when discussing work-life balance if graduates will be working lots of extra hours be honest about this and explain how the organisation rewards its employees for this kind of commitment. Career management how to succeed I feel really disheartened and demotivated with work. There s been a lack of training and support, and I don t get any feedback. I ve lost any confidence in my work. At the moment I feel I d be better suited stacking shelves in a supermarket... and I loved my degree and got a First! (Civil Engineer who studied Engineering, 2010) [My line manager] could give more feedback I do not know how my performance relates to that of the others and whether I am achieving the level expected of me. Need more individualised feedback! (Engineer who studied Naval Architecture, 2010) When Real Prospects graduates first entered the labour market they were often looking for a role which would help them to clarify their career goals. They assumed that their first job would equip them with the skills and experience they would need to progress in the future, but were not always prepared for the fact that employers would expect them to take responsibility for planning their own professional development. Some organisations, particularly those who run graduate training schemes, are prepared to invest the necessary time and money to help graduates determine their development needs, identify relevant training courses and plan their career progression. However, even graduates who were supported during their first two or three years were surprised by how quickly this support disappeared once they completed their training programme. Real Prospects graduates are well aware that they will continually have to update their knowledge and develop their skills if they want to compete in an increasingly competitive job market, but their comments suggest that they lack the confidence to take responsibility for their own professional development. This is further illustrated by the fact that many Real Prospects graduates wanted to work towards a professional qualification because the syllabus provided them with a ready-made programme of training and development. While some of the larger graduate employers equip new starters with a mentor to guide their professional development, not all graduate employees have someone they can turn to for career advice. If graduates are going to thrive in the workplace, they need to have confidence in their ability to manage their own career. What more could careers services do to prepare students for working life? Over 40% of Real Prospects graduates felt that they needed more feedback on their performance. Remind students that line managers are not tutors graduates won t automatically get feedback on their work and may need to ask if they want to know how they can improve. Warn students that they can t expect their employer to organise all their training for them if graduates know in advance that they may be expected to plan their own professional development and make their own arrangements with regards to identifying and attending training courses they are more likely to see it as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. Try to encourage graduates to see the process of identifying and assessing training opportunities as a way to develop their skills, rather than just a means to an end. Real Prospects graduates were disappointed to
14 14 discover that employers often overlooked their personal development needs, and were reluctant to invest time and money in training which was not relevant to their current job role. While graduates have to acknowledge that the needs of the business will usually come first, they also need to have to confidence to discuss their career progression with their line manager. Try to encourage graduates to think strategically about their professional development, and to consider how meeting their personal development needs will benefit the rest of the business. It is worth reminding graduates that there are opportunities to develop all over the place they just need to think creatively about how to get the skills they need. Encourage graduates to consider making a sideways move in order to gain experience, and to remember that career progression doesn t necessarily have to mean promotion Brookes, R. and Everett, G Post-graduation reflections on the value of a degree, British Educational Research Journal, 35:3,
15 Autumn 15 What is the value of a humanities degree? Dr Clare Saunders 1 and Professor Mark Addis 2 want to put humanities graduates firmly back into the UK skills and employability agenda. Using empirical evidence and theory they argue that humanities subjects are not merely the stuff of ivory towers, but that in fact the skills and, indeed, the very lifelong learners they cultivate are precisely those demanded by a globalised and increasingly ethical labour market. It is argued that the loss of the humanities at HE level will come at a hefty price. The value of a degree humanities versus STEM? The place of humanities degrees, and graduates, in 21st-century UK economy and society has been the subject of debate. Following on from the then education secretary Charles Clarke s notorious (and allegedly misquoted) claim that I don't mind there being some medievalists around for ornamental purposes, but there is no reason for the state to pay for them, 3 the government s 2009 framework for higher education announced that: We will give new priority to the programmes that meet the need for high level skills This will mean enhanced support for the STEM subjects degrees in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics To allow funds to be diverted to courses that meet strategic skills needs they will be diverted away from institutions whose courses fail to meet high standards of quality or outcome. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2009:12) This approach has been most strikingly illustrated to date by Middlesex University s recent decision to close its philosophy programme, allegedly in order to increase capacity for STEM provision. Should we be worried by this apparent trend or is it simply a sign that, as one commentator puts it, subjects such as philosophy are a luxury that we can ill afford in these desperate economic times? 4 We will argue that, on the contrary, humanities graduates are uniquely well-placed to meet the needs of the current and future labour market; that, far from being a luxury we can ill afford, they bring distinctive skills to the workforce that we can ill afford to lose, even perhaps especially in these times. There are of course plenty of high-minded arguments about the role of higher education being not so much to serve UK PLC as to broaden minds and improve human wellbeing or, to put it more elegantly (and subtly): Universities are not intended to teach the knowledge required to fit men for some special mode of gaining their livelihood. Their object is not to make skillful lawyers, or physicians or engineers, but capable and cultivated human beings Men are men before they are lawyers or physicians, or merchants, or manufacturers; and if you make them capable and sensible men, they will make themselves capable and sensible lawyers or physicians. Mill, JS (1867) As it happens, we have some sympathy for such arguments; but our case here does not rely on them alone. Rather, we will argue that, even if you believe that the primary value of a degree is instrumental derived from its currency in the labour market a humanities degree has a distinctive value which we should prize and seek to cultivate. Known unknowns and the value of learning to learn The first point in our argument has, helpfully, already been made by Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters in turn echoing (perhaps unconsciously) JS Mill s 19th-century claim that if you make capable and sensible men, they will make themselves capable and sensible lawyers or physicians.
16 16 Speaking to Times Higher Education last year, Gilleard reminded us that: A graduate today can fully expect to still be in the world of work in The one thing we can be certain of is that we will be applying skills that we haven t even thought of today. We will have to relearn and relearn and relearn Being able to think laterally, having good analytical skills, being an effective communicator employers are beginning to ask Where are we going to find these skills? Philosophy in particular is one of those disciplines that employers have started to recognise as having more about it that links to the world of work than they might have imagined. As quoted in Fearn (2009) This is not just unsubstantiated spin on behalf of the humanities. The Council for Industry and Higher Education commissioned research to analyse the distinctive employability profiles of graduates in different disciplines, and found that the competencies valued by employers were developed strongly by students of sometimes surprising subjects. 5 For example, if you are seeking a graduate with personal capabilities such as adaptability, creativity, decisiveness, initiative, leadership and tolerance of stress, you may find it helpful to know that these abilities are emphasised more strongly in the philosophy curriculum than in that of physics, mathematics or engineering; and that generic competencies such as interpersonal and organisational sensitivity, planning and organising, teamwork and communication are also typically given more emphasis in the study of humanities than STEM subjects. Even business and/or organisation awareness is emphasised more strongly in study of the humanities than in physics, chemistry or mathematics and many humanities subjects now include work-related learning in the undergraduate curriculum. 6 The distinctive value of humanities degrees Thus, then, there is some independent basis for the claim that humanities graduates are particularly well equipped with generic skills and competencies that will enable them to adapt effectively to the changing demands of the 21st-century world of work. Indeed, it could even be argued that these capabilities are more valuable to the labour market than vocational qualifications: Whereas the knowledge learnt in other disciplines may be superseded by future discoveries or made obsolete by changes of circumstance, the ability to think critically does not become devalued over time. Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies (2009:4) However, the value of a humanities degree is not measured solely by the extent to which it fosters however strongly those generic attributes which should (albeit to a greater or lesser extent) characterise a graduate of any subject. Additional to this, the subject-specific knowledge, skills and capabilities of humanities graduates have a distinctive and arguably vital contribution to make in the increasingly complex world of work. We cannot, within the space of this brief article, do justice to the full range of virtues of humanities study and their value to the labour market; but we shall attempt to provide a few indicative examples: Globalisation is an increasingly significant feature of the 21st-century economy and society. Humanities graduates are particularly well placed to tackle the attendant challenges and opportunities many will have directly relevant knowledge and skills obtained via the dedicated study of other cultures (e.g. languages, area studies, religious studies, history); all will have been encouraged to explore other perspectives as a core element of their study (e.g. English literature, philosophical theories). Corporate and social responsibility is also increasingly important, both as an element of one s global citizenship, and more instrumentally as a factor in the bottom line of a company s reputation and market share/value. Recent events such as the 2007 financial crash and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill have demonstrated that a critical awareness of the big picture and the wider implications of one s actions are not mere pious moralising, but rather an increasingly vital business skill. Graduates in philosophy and religious studies typically have specific in-depth training in ethics; and all humanities graduates will explore such moral and social issues as part of their studies.
17 1717 Sustainability is likewise more than simply a fashionable theme, but a challenge facing all economic and social enterprises as they seek to ensure their future including, but not only, in terms of environmental concerns. Again, many humanities curricula explicitly tackle these themes and thus equip their graduates to address them in the world of work (e.g. environmental ethics in philosophy, green theology ); all humanities graduates are likely to have touched upon such issues as part of their study, and will have fostered the wider capabilities of independent thought, critical awareness of other perspectives and an ability to think through the big picture that will enable them to handle effectively such complex and far-reaching challenges. We suggest that it is precisely such abilities as sensitivity to the values dimension, understanding of the wider picture and critical analysis of the implications thereof that will be increasingly crucial in providing a competitive edge in the 21st-century labour market and that humanities graduates are uniquely well placed to furnish these capabilities. The value of a degree humanities and STEM Of course, none of these arguments amount to a claim that humanities should supplant STEM graduates in the labour market naturally there remains a need for the specific skills of scientists, engineers and the like. However, we do suggest that the current policy of privileging STEM graduates over their humanities counterparts is misguided the labour market needs humanities graduates, arguably now more than ever. Note also that it is not simply the case that STEMrelated business need STEM graduates, whereas the rest of the market can make use of the generic skills of humanities graduates rather, STEM too needs the humanities. It is revealing that engineers and healthcare professionals are making room in busy undergraduate curricula to teach humanities subjects such as ethics; 7 and that some technology companies are seeking to recruit humanities rather than science graduates. 8 Humanities graduates make an invaluable and irreplaceable contribution to the world of work; without them, our economy as well as our society is impoverished. References Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Higher Ambitions: The Future of Universities in a Knowledge Economy (2009) Fearn, H., More things in heaven and earth, Horatio. Times Higher Education (1 January 2009) orycode= Kubler, B & Forbes, P. Degrees of Skill: Student Employability Profiles A Guide for Employers, Council for Industry and Higher Education (2005) Mill, J.S., Inaugural Address, St Andrew s University. (1867). Shepherd, J., I think, therefore I earn, The Guardian (20 November 2007) highereducation Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies, Where Next? Unlocking the Potential of Your Philosophy Degree (2009) (2nd edition) 1 Clare is Senior Academic Co-ordinator (Philosophy) at the Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies, The Higher Education Academy, 2 Mark is Professor of Philosophy at Birmingham City University and Treasurer of the British Philosophical Association, 3 See e.g. Clarke dismisses medieval historians (THE GUARDIAN, 9 May 2003): 4 Loss of philosophy at Middlesex raises fears for humanities (TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION, 6 May 2010): 5 For details, see Kubler & Forbes (2005) in particular pp , which provides a differential analysis of the emphasis placed on the development of particular competencies within the curricula of individual degree subjects. 6 For additional evidence, see for example Shepherd (2007) which includes quotations from a number of graduate recruiters who target philosophy graduates for their ability to look for different approaches and take an open mind to issues to be very analytical, provide clear and innovative thinking, and question assumptions. 7 See for example the extensive references to ethics in the General Medical Council s blueprint for medical education (www.gmc-uk.org/education/undergraduate/tomorrows_doctors_2009.asp); or the work of the Royal Academy of Engineering s Teaching Engineering Ethics Group (www.raeng.org.uk/societygov/engineeringethics/teaching.htm). 8 See for example the testimony of a(n anonymous) graduate recruiter at Cisco Systems, as cited in Fearn (2009).
18 18 Erasmus Student Work Placements In the UK, the Erasmus programme is administered by the British Council. Recently, more and more UK students have been reaping the benefits of carrying out a work placement since it was introduced to the programme in GMT explores the growing status and popularity of the new Erasmus experience amongst UK students, universities, and graduate employers. New look Erasmus Despite the programme s popularity on mainland Europe, UK students were not as keen to participate as their European peers and for many years the number of UK students participating, declined. However, 2007 heralded a change, when work placements were introduced. This option had formerly been part of the Leonardo da Vinci programme, another strand of the EU s Lifelong Learning Programme. Since this shift, more and more students from the UK have been taking up the work experience option and we have seen three years of increasing numbers of student participation, in both study and work placements. Of the 10,840 UK students who took part in Erasmus in 2008/09, 3,400 carried out a work placement, a growth of 25% from the previous year. A holistic experience Doing a work placement is a great way to impress future employers and gives students excellent firsthand experience of the working world. However, an Erasmus placement is much more than just work experience or the acquisition of language skills as it exposes the student to new cultures and ways of thinking, thus facilitating the internalisation of different work ethics and world views. In this way it goes beyond the standard definition of soft skills. Recent graduate employers surveys and other skills and employability reports have identified the importance of student and graduate work experience abroad. l The idea is also congruent with the popularised lifelong learner terminology. ll As Simon Williams, Head EU Programmes at the British Council said, Erasmus students really do gain so much more than academic recognition. By integrating themselves into their new surroundings and getting involved, they become a real asset to their host community, broadening their own life experience as well as those of the people whose lives they touch along the way... Not only does it offer academic, professional and personal development, but it helps young people to better understand and work with people from other cultures and all walks of life. It is great to see this being understood by an increasing number of students in the UK and across Europe. Studies have shown that placement students were more likely to be employed six months after graduating and to have higher salaries than the average. Erasmus students were also more likely to be engaged in further study, but those in employment were substantially more likely to be employed abroad and had above-average salaries. The figures In their first year of study, students are eligible for work placements. The minimum period allowed for a placement is three months, or one academic term, up to a maximum of 12 months. However, for students on short term higher vocational education courses, the minimum duration is slightly shorter at two months. Sometimes employers will give students a basic income which can be added to their Erasmus grant, making it financially attractive too. In 2007/08, 69 of the 181 participating UK higher education institutions offered the work placement option to their students. After France, the UK now sends out the most students on Erasmus work
19 19 placements and it is also the second most popular country, after Spain and ahead of Germany, for receiving work placement students. With over 100 institutions now offering work placements, the UK looks set to hold its position. In 2007/08, students from the participating countries took the option of a work placement, over 5,000 more than the previous year when it was part of the Leonardo da Vinci programme. Over 10% of these were from the UK (2,750), with the trend continuing in 2008/09 when the numbers grew to 3,400. Jude Thomas, Erasmus Marketing Manager at the British Council, comments: With more people going to university and a more challenging economic environment, I think students see the value of going that one step further. They realise that a degree is not necessarily enough to get the best job and gaining international work experience will really help them to stand out from the competition. Kate Samways (Cardiff University) Kate chose to study and carry out a work placement as an IT English Language Assistant in Millau, France teaching disabled adults for six months, and then to study in Venice for four months. The Institut Informatique is an IT institute for physically disabled adults looking for training to help them re-enter the job market. The job required her to be sensitive, respectful and professional whilst adapting to a very specific work environment. She found the experience extremely stimulating and ended up working many more hours than was required of her. Having never taught before she learned a lot about patience, the importance of making language learning fun and even something about IT. Kate spent the second half of her Erasmus year living and studying in Venice. This was a completely different experience; she says it was like nothing she had ever done before. I got such a sense of achievement and independence from making a real life for myself in a place which is so different to my life at home, says Kate. I relished the challenge, knowing that the whole idea of Erasmus is to expand your horizons. Vicki McAllister (Erasmus work placement at Umea University Hospital, Sweden) Having successfully worked in another country, albeit for only a few months, I have gained transferable skills, which I feel future employers will look upon positively. Being able to adapt to a new culture and healthcare system indicates that I am flexible and keen to experience new challenges. Because of the positive Erasmus experience that I have had, I would not hesitate in applying for nursing positions abroad in the future as I have learnt that I can manage with the language difficulties and adapt to the cultural differences. At times, it was difficult being in a foreign environment and not being able to understand conversations or even to be able to talk as much with the patients as I would have at home but I am so glad that I have been able to experience another country s health service and to draw comparisons with Britain. I have developed nursing skills as well as my personal skills, especially communicating with staff and patients. Sometimes I had to rely more on my nonverbal communication skills in order to determine the situation or to convey information to my patients. I have increased in confidence and developed a more relaxed attitude to life because of my three months abroad. Further information: l The Council for Industry and Higher Education Report (CIHE), Graduate Employability: The Views of Employers (2008); Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), AGR Graduate Recruitment Survey: Winter Review (2009); High Fliers Research, The Graduate Market in 2010 (2010); Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Attainment in Higher Education: Erasmus and Placement Students (2009) ll UKCES, Towards Ambition 2020: Skills, jobs, growth (Expert Advice from UKCES) (2009); UKCES, The 2009 Report: Ambition 2020: World Class Skills and Jobs for the UK (2009); Learning and Skills Network (LSN), Employability and Skills Report (2008); CBI Higher Education Taskforce, Future Fit: Preparing Graduates for the World of Work (2009)
20 Autumn Futuretrack Stage 2: A new classification of higher education institutions Article author and HECSU Research Director, Jane Artess, presents an abridged version of Working Paper No. 1 by Kate Purcell, Peter Elias and Gaby Atfield (Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick). The new classification is a result of research carried out during stage 2 of Futuretrack, and it is now used as an alternative tool for analysing Futuretrack Stage 3 findings. This working paper is the first in a series in which the findings of Futuretrack at stage 3 will be published on both the HECSU and IER websites. New Classification Methodology & Findings League tables Although competing league tables are now available that rank higher education institutions (HEIs) by a range of measures, an orthodoxy is predominant when classifying HEIs, with Russell Group, Old (pre-92) universities, New (post-92) universities, and others being the most commonly used categories. The use of the category termed Russell Group universities has become a convenient proxy indicator of access to the UK s most prestigious universities (See Cabinet Office, 2009:40 for a recent example of this usage), but other analysts have suggested alternative top university lists, for example The Sutton 13 Universities (Sutton Trust 2008:7, 2005). Tariff points There is a public and professional need for a more precise taxonomy of universities, to provide accurate information to users about their relative HE provision and the implications of that for the opportunities to which they give or restrict access. In constructing a new ranking of HEIs for more effective analysis of the relationship between higher education (HE) and opportunity, we used average tariff points required for entry to a specific HEI. Regardless of the HEI they ultimately choose to attend, an applicant with higher tariff points normally has a wider range of options available to them than a candidate with lower tariff points. As an overall indication of university reputation in the international marketplace and, to a lesser extent, the national one, the tariff points held by a successful applicant are tangible measures of their educational capital, whilst the tariff points required by HEIs of applicants are generally indicative of the comparative status of the institution and the competition to enter it. To create the new access tariff variable, we drew on entry standards data from the UCAS application process, The Times Good University Guide 2006 and and the data on tariff points collected during Stage 1 of the Futuretrack survey; we also considered comparable league tables.