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Graduate employment in the knowledge society Norwegian mastergrade-level graduates

Terje Næss ()
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Terje Næss: Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education-NIFU

No 21, Working Papers from AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium

Abstract: In Norway, as in most other countries, even most educational researchers and politicians agrees that knowledge worker jobs will be plentiful in the new knowledge economy and that new graduates from higher education not will have large problems in finding relevant employment in spite of their increasing numbers, there is still some disagreement about this. In Norway, the development on the graduate labour market is monitored by NIFU using graduate-surveys. According to the surveys, most graduates still find "relevant employment” after graduation. In this article we have explored the content of "relevant employment” by looking at various indicators for the skill level for those graduates who are in "relevant employment”; economic activity, sector, wages, and information-related work. This has been analysed for four fields of study; humanities, law, economics and science&technology, and by comparing the 1989/91- cohorts with the 2005/07-cohorts. All the indicators seem to indicate that "relevant employment” for the large part still is high-skill employment, and that there not is substantial deskilling or overqualification. Firstly, the large part of growth in graduate numbers has been absorbed by typical high-skill economic activities. This was however not mainly traditional academic work areas, but different types of "knowledge-intensive service production”. Especially important was ”professional and technical services” and information&communication. 43 per cent of the growth in recruitment occurred within these two economic activities. Wages in these two economic activities were also higher than in the traditional academic sector, indicating that the shift in recruitment to these two economic activities not should be interpreted as deskilling. For two other relatively important "new” work areas, for these groups of graduates, "cultural and other personal services” and "health care and social services”, however, and especially the first group, average wages was lower than in other economic activities, especially for the first group, which may indicate that the skill level is lower than in the traditional academic areas. Another important signal of large demand for graduates is that the business sector, which generally is thought of as more attractive than the public sector, accounted for three quarters of the increase in the number of employed graduates. This was not only because it was economic activities within the business sector domain that increased recruitment the most; there was also a general trend towards increased recruitment in business sector organization irrespective of economic activity. Lastly, nearly a third of the growth in recruitment was information-related work, also usually thought of as typical skilled work.

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Date: 2011-09
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