Employment after graduation in Finland: new data

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In this blog post, we’ll look at student employment after graduation. We specifically talk about finding employment after graduation in Finland. We very briefly mention that some graduates move abroad after they graduate but leave it at that.

Our focus is on how well and where recent graduates from different educational levels in Finland find employment.

This discussion is based on a recent study by Sitra and Consultancy for Regional Development MDI

In case you are unfamiliar with the Finnish education system and its different levels, here is an overview of it in English. Here’s a visualization of the same thing. 

Study focus

This study looked at all graduates from vocational schools, universities of applied sciences, and universities from the period of 2015-2018 in Finland. 

During 2016-2018, about 298 000 students graduated from vocational institutions in Finland. 139 000 students graduated from universities of applied sciences and 156 600 from universities. Thus the report is based on a large amount of data.

They recorded the employment status of those graduates at the end of 2018 or early 2019. 

They also recorded their possible move from one location to another to see whether graduates stayed at the area where they had been studying or whether they moved somewhere else for work.

We will be discussing these two issues here. The report also compared employment rates between educational institutions but we won’t go into that information in this blog although it is interesting. 

The report also doesn’t specifically look at the employment of international students. Thus that won’t be our topic of discussion here either. We’ve discussed their employment results a bit in a different blog

To those interested, there’s also a brand new research article by Charles Mathies and Hannu Karhunen on international student migration in Finland. In this new article, they look at the role of graduation on staying in Finland. 

Employment after graduation in Finland: vocational education

Out of the about 298 000 vocational degrees, 25.3 % were in the technical field, 21.6 % in business administration, 20.4 % in healthcare, and 19.2 % in the service field. 

By the end of 2019, 67.4 % of them had found employment. 6.6 % were full-time students and 11.4 % were unemployed. Others still were students while working at the same time (9.4 %). The status of some was unknown. 

Depending on their fields of study and the institutions from which they had graduated, their employment rates varied significantly. 

Employment varied also based on their level of education. The employment rate for those with only the initial vocational qualifications was 62.5 %. For those with further vocational qualifications, it was 76.7 %. The employment rate of graduates with specialist vocational education, in turn, was 86.6 %. 

Graduates with initial vocational qualifications

Looking at those with initial vocational qualifications, the employment rate was best for those who had graduated from the healthcare field. Their employment rate was 74 %. In the service, technical, and business fields employment rates were around 60 %, while in others it was below that.

Those with degrees in the humanities (41 %) and ICT fields (38 %) had the lowest employment rates. 

However, if we take into consideration how many of them continued full-time studies, the picture changes somewhat.

For example, 29 % of those with degrees in the humanities, continued their studies after their degree from the vocational institution. In the ICT fields, their share was also large (25 %). 

In the healthcare field, in contrast, only 15 % were continuing their studies. 

If we combine the measures, the highest percentage of graduates who were either working or studying full time after their graduation was in the healthcare field. There 89 % were engaged in either one of these. 

The ICT field had the highest percentage of unemployed. Nearly one in five was unemployed. 

Graduates with further and specialist vocational education 

Graduates with further and specialist education degrees in business administration and law, or in the technical fields had employment rates over 80 %. 

The lowest employment rates were for graduates in natural sciences and the ICT field. Only a little over 60 % of them had found employment after graduation. 

There wasn’t much variation in the proportion of students between the fields. 

Where do those with vocational qualifications go to?

The study found that those with the initial vocational qualifications tend to be employed in the same large region (maakunta) as where they went to school. 

This, however, varied a bit depending on the region. For example in Uusimaa and Åland over 90 % stayed in the same area after graduation. 

The proportion of those who stayed in the same region was also quite high in Southwest Finland, Pirkanmaa, North Ostrobothnia, Ostrobothnia, and South Karelia. (See a map of the regions here).

Less populated regions lost these graduates often to neighboring regions with higher populations. Satakunta, for example, lost graduates to Pirkanmaa and Southwest Finland. 

Those with further and specialist vocational education tended to move more than those with just the initial vocational education. In South Savo, only 27 % of these graduates had found employment after graduation in the region where they studied.

On average, these graduates stayed put most often in North Ostrobothnia and Ostrobothnia. There were, however, differences between fields.

For example, in healthcare 86 % of graduates found employment in their study region on average. However, in Åland this percentage was over 90 while in Satakunta and Central Ostrobothnia it dropped to around 70. 

All in all, though, most commonly graduates with a vocational degree find employment in the same or immediately neighboring region to where they went to school. 

The greatest beneficiaries of vocational education provided elsewhere in the country were South Carelia, Southwest Finland, Pirkanmaa, and North Ostrobothnia. 

Employment after graduation in Finland: graduates from the universities of applied sciences

In 2015-2019, there were about 139 300 degrees from universities of applied sciences in ten different fields and 151 different degrees. Out of these, about 89.8 % were Bachelor’s degrees. 10.2 % were Master’s degrees.

Out of the ten fields, the largest were healthcare (ca. 38 % of graduates), business administration (ca. 20 %), and the technical field (ca. 19 %). The remaining seven fields each represented 8 % or less of the total number of graduates.

Of all 2014-2018 universities of applied sciences graduates, 97 % were living in Finland at the end of 2018. 3 % were living abroad. 

Of those in Finland, 77.8 % were employed at the end of 2018. A little more than 10 % were continuing their studies either as full-time students or alongside their jobs. 5.4 % were unemployed and 3.3 % were outside the workforce.

Those with a degree in healthcare had the highest employment rate at 83.5 %. 

Only 55 % of those with a degree in the natural sciences had found employment after graduation. They, on the other hand, were most often (31.4 %) studying full-time or alongside their employment. 

Also, those with a degree in education were often (25 %) studying further after their university of applied sciences degree.

The employment figures were even better for those with a Master’s degree from a university of applied sciences. By the end of 2018, 88.2 % of the 2014-2018 graduates had found employment after graduation. Their unemployment rate was only 2.8 %

By field, their employment rate varied from 82.5 % in the humanities and the arts to over 90 % in the social sciences, natural sciences, and technology.

It is notable that while those with only a vocational degree in ICT suffered quite often from unemployment, those with a Master’s degree from a university of applied sciences didn’t. 91 % of them had found employment after graduation. 

Where do those with a university of applied sciences degree go to?

Whether the region can hold onto its graduates varies considerably across Finland. For example, 88.4 % of Uusimaa graduates stay in Uusimaa after graduation. Only 37.1 % of Kanta-Häme graduates do. 

The biggest regions can hold onto their graduates better than smaller ones. Uusimaa is in a league of its own in this. But also Pirkanmaa, North Ostrobothnia, and Southwest Finland are doing well. They hold onto over 70 % of their graduates.

Uusimaa is attracting university of applied sciences graduates from all over the country. At least 15 % of those graduates of all regions who find employment outside their study region found employment in Uusimaa. For some areas, this percentage is significantly higher. 

Uusimaa attracted particularly those with ICT degrees or a degree in the humanities. 

Pirkanmaa, North Ostrobothnia, and Southwest Finland attract graduates particularly from their neighboring regions. 

Primarily, though, university of applied sciences graduates found employment in their study region or in a neighboring region. Only Uusimaa and to a lesser extent Pirkanmaa attract graduates from all over the country. 

The tendency to move from one region to another varied also according to the study field. For example, about 80 % of ICT graduates found employment in their study region. In Uusimaa, about 95 % of them did. 

On the other hand, only 41.8 % of graduates in agriculture and forestry found employment in their study region. Most often these graduates found employment in their study regions in North Karelia (69.5 %), North Savo (66.7 %), and Kymenlaakso (62.5 %). 

All in all, Pirkanmaa, Uusimaa, North Ostrobothnia, and Southwest Finland employed more university of applied science graduates than they produced. Pirkanmaa, for example, employed 21 % more university of applied sciences graduates than it produced. 

Pirkanmaa employed, for example, about 23 % more humanities graduates, 34 % more business graduates, and 35 % more healthcare graduates than it produced.

Employment after graduation in Finland: university graduates

Between 2015 and 2019, Finnish universities produced 156 618 degrees, which is about 31 300 degrees a year. 44.8 % of those were Bachelor’s degrees, 49.1 % were Master’s degrees, 0.3 % were licentiate degrees, and 5.8 % were doctoral degrees.

Humanities and the arts covered 17 % of these degrees, business administration and law about 17 %, technology about 15 %, and social sciences about 13 %.  

There were 127 different Bachelor’s degrees, 134 different Master’s degrees, and 184 different doctoral degrees. Here will only discuss graduates with Master’s degrees or higher as in Finland those with Bachelor’s degrees from universities often continue straight to the Master’s degree rather than enter the job market.

By the end of 2019, 94.4 % of those who had received their Master’s degrees between 2015 and 2019 were living in Finland. 5.6 % had moved abroad. 

This percentage was particularly high, though, for the Svenska Handelshögskolan. Of its graduates from 2014-2018, about 15 % had moved abroad. 

76.9 % of all university graduates had found employment after graduation in Finland. Only 4.9 % were unemployed. But there are significant differences between different fields. 

Those with a Master’s degree in business administration or law had the highest employment rate. 82.4 % of them had found employment after graduation. Those with a Master’s degree in natural sciences had the lowest rate of employment (58.2 %). They, however, had the highest proportion of those who were studying further (28.5 %). 

The unemployment rate was lowest for those with a healthcare degree (1.3 %) or technology (2.7 %).

In terms of degrees, those with a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering (86.6 %) or education (85.7 %) were most likely to be employed after graduation. 

Graduates with doctoral degrees

Between 2014 and 2019, 8 342 individuals received a doctoral degree or became a specialist in their medical field. 

88.7 % of those doctorates lived in Finland by the end of 2020. 11.3 % lived abroad. This percentage is the highest for all education levels. Those with a doctoral degree in natural sciences move abroad particularly often (about 18 % of 2014-2018 doctorates).

The employment rate of doctorate degree holders (80.2 %) is higher than Master’s degree holders from universities (76.4 %) or university of applied sciences degree holders in general (77.8 %). However, Master’s degree holders from universities of applied sciences have the best employment rate (88.2 %) of them all. 

Doctoral degree holders from healthcare (86 %), technology (82.2 %), and ICT (80.9 %) had the highest employment rates of all doctorates. Doctorates from the natural sciences had the lowest but it was still quite high at 76.6 %. Here it’s worth remembering that they also moved abroad more frequently than others.

Those with a doctoral degree in medicine had a particularly high employment rate (91.9 %) as did those with a doctoral degree in electrical engineering (87.2 %). Also, specialist medical doctors were nearly always employed (84.8 %).

Of all doctorate recipients, biologists had the lowest employment rate (73.2 %). 

Where do these university graduates end up?

Uusimaa stands out among university graduates (Master’s and Doctorates) with its ability to hold on to them. 89 % of those who graduate from universities in Uusimaa also found employment there. 

North Ostrobothnia, Pirkanmaa, and Southwest Finland were able to hold on to about 60 % of such graduates. 

Of all of those graduates who didn’t find employment in their study region, 46 % found employment after graduation in Uusimaa. Particularly graduates from Päijät-Häme and Southwest Finland came to Uusimaa for employment. 

In addition to Uusimaa, university graduates also found employment in Pirkanmaa, Southwest Finland, and North Ostrobothnia. In contrast to Uusimaa, which attracted graduates from all over, these regions attracted graduates mainly from their neighboring regions. 

Again there are differences between fields. 

For example, those with an ICT degree tended to stay in their study regions. On average, about 75 % of them found employment nearby. In Uusimaa, over 96 % also stayed there. In contrast, in South Karelia only 26 % of them did. 

At the university education level, Uusimaa benefitted the most from the education given elsewhere in the country. Uusimaa employed 45 % more Master’s and Doctorate degree holders than it produced. Other regions educated more than they employed. 

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