Graduate development in European employment: issues and contradictions

Little, Brenda (2008). Graduate development in European employment: issues and contradictions. Education and Training, 50(5) pp. 379–390.



Purpose: The article uses data from a recently-completed study of European graduates’ experiences of higher education and employment to explore similarities and differences in UK and other European graduates’ continuing development.

Method/approach: Data was collected from the graduating cohort of 1999/2000 across eleven European countries, five years after graduation. The views of higher education providers and employers on graduates in the knowledge society were investigated in a smaller sub-set of countries.

Findings: There are differences in the incidence and length of UK graduates’ initial training in employment compared to all graduates which can be explained, in part by the traditionally looser ‘fit’ between higher education and employment in the UK (compared to many continental European countries). Five years after graduation, UK graduates enjoy similar levels of work-related training as their European counterparts although there are quite large differences between employment sectors.

Policy implications: It is as yet unclear to what extent harmonisation of higher education programmes (arising from the Bologna Process) will affect the relationship between higher education and employment, and in particular the role played by higher education and by employers in graduates’ initial professional formation and continuing development.

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