Recent graduates in employment: understanding EU targets and drivers

This paper aims to contribute to the discussion on the future employability benchmark under the European Commission’s Education and Training Strategy 2025.

Recent graduates in employment

In order to do this the study provides insight on current EU targets set within the Education and Training 2020 strategy, specifically exploring the target of at least 82% of recent graduates to be in employment.

The analysis shows that the employability of recent graduates over the last decade differs according to age group, educational attainment levels and gender.

Using panel data analysis and a limited dependent variable regression model, the macro-economic and individual characteristics that influence the employability of recent graduates are identified.

At macro-level, we have identified the positive impact of economic growth on the employment of recent graduates, which varies depending on their level of education.

At micro-level, we have identified several vulnerable groups: females, medium-educated recent graduates and those living in rural areas.

From a policy point of view, policies that help recent graduates make the transition from education to employment are required; we have identified that it is more likely for a recent graduate to be in employment in the second and third year than in the first year after graduation.

Disclaimer: This paper includes analysis based on data from Eurostat, Labour Force Survey 2007-2016. The responsibility for all conclusions drawn from the data lies entirely with the authors of the paper.

General conclusions

  • Tertiary graduates have reached the 82% target
  • Secondary graduates are more vulnerable to the economic cycle
  • Trend is upward for all groups; overall the target will likely be exceeded in the next years but…… policies need to be in place to protect recent graduates should another downturn materialise
  • In terms of a future target, we recommend focusing on those most vulnerable amongst recent graduates such as secondary graduate and recent female graduates and those with a migrant background, rather than on the whole recent graduate population.

Key findings from panel data regression with fixed effects at the country level for EU-28, 2007-2017

  • GDP changes are  more likely to affect recent secondary graduates
  • Recent graduates are more connected to the employment rate than older cohorts
  • Inactivity affects more secondary graduates and older cohort than tertiary graduates
  • Supply of education in the population matters only for tertiary educated

Key findings from micro-level regression with fixed effects based on EU Labour Force Survey data for EU-27*, 2007-2016 (controlling for field of study)

  • Females are less likely to be in employment compared to males
  • Graduates with a migrant background are less likely to be employed compared to those born in the country of survey
  • Secondary graduates are less likely to be in employment compared to tertiary graduates
  • The probability of being employed increases with time since graduation
  • Individuals in rural areas are less likely to be employed compared to those in big cities

* Germany data was not available to the research team

For more information please contact

Cornelia-Madalina Suta Head of European & Global Economic and Social Policy [email protected]