The results of the latest University of Helsinki career monitoring survey are encouraging: most respondents are satisfied with their education from the perspective of their careers. The share of satisfied respondents is unchanged from the previous survey.
As in recent years, graduates from the faculties of medicine, law, science and veterinary medicine are the most satisfied with their degree.
Completed in late 2022, the survey targeted University of Helsinki graduates who completed a second-cycle degree, a Bachelor of Science (Pharmacy) degree or an early childhood education teacher degree in 2017 or a doctoral degree in 2019. The survey results help the University develop its education to better meet professional needs.
Two-thirds in permanent full-time employment
Out of all respondents with a second-cycle, Bachelor of Science (Pharmacy) or early childhood education teacher degree, 95% were employed five years after graduation. Just under 2% were unemployed and under 4% were outside the workforce; the latter group includes full-time students, for instance.
Fifteen per cent of the respondents had experienced breaks in employment in the five years since their graduation. Here, variation between the faculties was significant.
“Compared to the previous survey, the share of graduates who had been unemployed for under six months had slightly increased, whereas the figure for graduates who had experienced a longer period of unemployment had decreased,” says Planning Officer Miia Hankonen of the University of Helsinki’s Teaching and Learning Services.
One potential reason for the increase in short-time unemployment after graduation is that the relevant survey question changed in 2021. The coronavirus pandemic may also have played a part, as many respondents had been furloughed, particularly in spring 2020.
Of the employed respondents, 63% were in permanent full-time employment, slightly more than in the previous survey, while 13% were in fixed-term full-time employment.
The importance of knowing how to describe your skills
The graduates of 2017 who took the survey reported that the ability to describe their skills had been the most important factor for their employment. Other significant factors had included work experience, the subject combination of the degree, traineeships included in studies, and contacts and networks, but the significance of these factors varied considerably between the faculties.
“International experience, organisational work or hobbies, and social media activity have been important or highly important for the employment of some respondents, even though these factors don’t stand out at the University level,” Hankonen points out.
The respondents also described the skills they had found to be important in their work. Master’s graduates from five years ago stressed the importance of skills such as the ability to learn and assimilate new information, take initiative and tolerate stress, as well as self-direction, collaboration and problem-solving skills.
Excellent job prospects for doctoral graduates
Out of all respondents who had completed a doctoral degree in 2019, 96% were employed, 1% were unemployed and 3% were outside the workforce. Hence, the share of gainfully employed graduates in the entire workforce was very high: 99%.
Whereas the share of graduates who had been unemployed for under six months was up, the figure for graduates who had experienced a longer period of unemployment was down. A similar trend was seen among the master’s graduates, and possibly for the same reasons, namely, the change in the survey question on unemployment and the impact of the pandemic.
Universities were the key employer sector for doctoral respondents, followed by private companies and the municipal sector. Differences between faculties were significant.
Of the doctoral graduates of 2019, 88% said that they are able to use the knowledge and skills learned at university in their work and that they are satisfied with their degree in terms of their career. In addition, 85% of them stated that their current job requirements match their academic qualifications.
As in previous career monitoring surveys, doctoral graduates felt that a second-cycle degree and the ability to describe one’s skills are key for employment. They also stressed the importance of their doctoral degree, work experience and networks.
The skills considered necessary in the workplace varied widely from faculty to faculty. However, all respondents underlined the importance of learning, problem-solving and self-management skills as well as the ability to think analytically and systematically.
The results of the career monitoring survey are taken into account in the Finnish university funding model, which means they affect the funds allocated to the University of Helsinki. Important indicators based on the survey responses include the number of employed graduates and the quality of education. The next career monitoring survey will commence on 2 October 2023. The respondents will be master’s graduates of 2018 and doctoral graduates of 2020. The survey will be sent separately to each prospective respondent.
- University of Helsinki graduates who have completed a master’s degree, a Bachelor of Science (Pharmacy) degree or an early childhood education teacher degree have excellent job prospects. Of the respondents, 95% were employed, just under 2% unemployed and under 4% outside the workforce five years after graduation. Those outside the workforce include full-time students, for instance.
- Fifteen per cent of the respondents had experienced breaks in employment in the five years since their graduation. Differences between faculties were significant.
- Over 80% of the graduates of 2017 felt that their job requirements at the time of responding to the survey correspond to their academic qualifications. An equal number said that they have been able to use the knowledge and skills acquired at university in their current job.
- Some two-thirds of the respondents agreed or somewhat agreed that their education had provided sufficient skills for employment. Differences between faculties were significant.
- Five years after graduation, 19% of the University of Helsinki graduates of 2017 worked in education, 15% with customers or patients, 14% in administration, planning and development, and 11% in research.
- One in three respondents worked in companies, and just under a third worked for municipalities. Other significant employers included the government, universities and the third sector. One in five respondents had worked as entrepreneurs or freelancers or had been self-employed after graduation.
- The share of graduates to complete postgraduate research studies after graduation grew slightly at the University level from previous surveys. Roughly one-quarter of the respondents from the faculties of biological and environmental sciences, medicine and science reported that they were pursuing postgraduate studies.
- The share of graduates who had been studying towards another academic (first- or second-cycle) degree had also increased slightly from the previous year.
- Moreover, 41% of the respondents had been unemployed at some point in the five-year period after graduation. The figure is equivalent to that in the previous year’s survey.
- The share of respondents satisfied with their degree varied from 76% to 95%. Graduates rated the relationship between employment and education more favourably if their degrees had a linear progression into a specific job. However, opinions were mixed within faculties and fields of education as well.
- Doctoral graduates from the University of Helsinki have excellent job prospects. Of the respondents, 96% of the doctoral respondents were employed, 1% were unemployed and 3% were outside the workforce three years after graduation.
- At the time of the survey, 54% of the doctoral graduates were in permanent full-time employment and 24% in fixed-term full-time employment.
- Almost 90% were satisfied with their doctoral degree in terms of their career. In addition, 85% stated that their current job requirements match their academic qualifications. However, variation between faculties was considerable.
- One in three of the doctoral graduates of 2019 were employed by a university. Next on the list of major employers were, with almost identical figures, private companies and the municipal sector.
- Out of all doctoral respondents, 44% reported working primarily in research. Just over one in six worked with customers or patients, and one in ten in planning and development.