A couple of years ago I published a blog discussing the employment rates of recent graduates in Finland. That had to do with students who had graduated between 2015 and 2018. Thus, it had a narrow scope timewise. In early November, however, the Ministry of Education and Culture published its own study looking at the employment status of graduates from 2009 to 2021. In this blog, we discuss what this longer perspective tells us about education and employment after graduation in Finland.
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Employment rates of recent graduates and educational levels
A year after graduation, the employment rates of all graduates regardless of the education level were relatively similar to the employment levels of all 20 to 64-year-olds with the same level of education.
For example, the employment level of all 20-64-year-olds with initial vocational qualifications was 70 % in 2009-2021. For recent graduates, it was 64 %.
The employment rate of some recent graduates was even higher than that of all 20-64-year-olds with the same degree. For example, the employment rate of recent Masters from Universities of Applied Sciences was 94 % between 2009 and 2021. It was 92 % for all 20-64-year-olds with that same education.
It makes sense to go for a higher degree
This report shows that higher education levels are clearly associated with higher employment rates.
If we first look at just education levels, we notice that those who have only gone through the general upper secondary education (lukio) have a very low employment rate a year after graduation (44 %). This is understandable, though, since lukio is primarily an avenue for further education. The same is true for Bachelor’s degrees from universities. The employment rate of recent graduates with these degrees is also quite low at 64 %.
If we focus just on degrees that can be considered target degrees, the value of educating oneself further becomes visible.
For example, within vocational education, the employment rate of recent graduates with just initial vocational education is 64 % as I mentioned. However, the employment rates of recent graduates with further vocational education and specialist vocational education are clearly higher. For the former it is 81 % and for the latter 94 %.
Above I mentioned that Bachelor’s degrees from universities are not target degrees and therefore their employment rates are relatively low. Bachelor’s degrees from universities of applied sciences are different. Those are usually target degrees and as such have a high employment rate of 84 % a year after graduation. However, within the universities of applied sciences system, it makes sense to aim higher than Bachelor’s. Master’s degree holders from universities of applied sciences have an employment rate of 94 % a year after graduation. This is higher than those with a Master’s from universities. Their employment rate a year after graduation is 83 %.
Within fields going for a higher degree makes sense as well
I mentioned above that higher degrees, in general, offer higher employment rates. They also do it across fields. This means that a Master’s degree from any field is better in terms of employment rates than a basic vocational degree from any other field. So, for example, recent graduates with a Master’s degree in humanities or the arts have a higher employment rate (73%) than vocational school graduates in the technical fields (55 %).
There is one notable exception to this and that’s the healthcare and welfare field. The employment rate of graduates from vocational schools in the healthcare and welfare field is higher (84 %) than, for example, that of Masters in the natural sciences (76 %), ICT (80 %), and agriculture and forestry (81 %).
Here are the employment rates of recent graduates from different fields and education levels from 2009 to 2021.
|Humanities and the Arts||Education||Business Admin and Law||Natural Sciences||Agriculture and Forestry||Service fields||Technical fields||Health care and welfare||ICT||Social Sciences|
|Vocational education||49 %||69 %||48 %||59 %||68 %||55 %||84 %||39 %|
|Bachelors from universities of applied sciences||69 %||76 %||81 %||65 %||79 %||82 %||84 %||91 %||77 %||70 %|
|Masters from universities||73 %||88 %||86 %||76 %||81 %||83 %||85 %||94 %||80 %||84%|
Employment rates and educational institutions
Aleksi Kalenius, who wrote the Ministry of Education and Culture report, also looked at differences in employment rates of graduates from different educational institutions.
Initially, he shows that the employment rates of graduates from different vocational institutions vary quite a lot compared to institutions offering higher education. For higher education graduates, such variations are much less pronounced. This could suggest that there are significant differences in the quality of education in different vocational institutions.
Kalenius explains, however, that the seemingly large variation in the employment rates of graduates from different vocational institutions is mostly due to the differences in employment rates of different vocational fields. For example, technical fields produce large numbers of vocational graduates compared to some other fields. Their relatively low employment rates contrasted with the high employment rate in the healthcare field explains a lot of the variation. Within fields employment rates of different vocational institutions do not differ significantly.
The fact that this variation is low within individual fields suggests that the employment rates of recent graduates do provide us with a relatively good measure of the need for different types of graduates in the Finnish labor market.
To what extent individuals should use these data to make their own educational choices is debatable. The ability to secure employment after graduation is, however, often quite high on the list of priorities when people do make these choices. Based on these data, therefore, one sees that if one is interested in, for example, the technical fields, it makes sense to aim for a higher degree. In the healthcare field in contrast a lower level degree is enough to secure employment.