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Subject Graduate employment in the Greek labour market
Niki Kyriakidou, Leeds Business School, United Kingdom
Outline There is a widespread assumption across Europe that investment in education is of vital importance. According to many, it can enhance economic performance at an individual, organisational and societal level as well as achieve social cohesion. 
    Little research has examined the ways that national context/culture impacts upon graduate expectations, decisions and career trajectories. A unique aspect of this study lays in its attempt to directly examine graduates’ perceptions of their studies and graduate career trajectories though a country specific case. In this regard, the contribution of this study is to explore the linkages between higher education and employment and therefore, investigate the actual value of the degree studies within the Greek labour market. 
    The analysis examines the career trajectories of Greek graduates from the disciplines of nursing and public administration & political science (PSc & PA). Its empirical base draws from a graduate questionnaire survey, and semi-structured interviews with graduates, course directors, HE careers advisers, and recruitment consultants. 
    The study undertakes a multi-level analysis in order to assess the subtle interactions between higher education structure and policies, organisations’ recruitment strategies, and the country’s culture and tradition. In this regard, the study highlights the importance of socio-economic influences on students’ degree choice and their career activities after graduation. The focal points are: the factors influencing graduates decision to study; decision making after the completion of their degree studies; value of their degree in the labour market; career progression and barriers to progression.
    The study highlighted main differences between the experiences of nursing and PSc & PA graduates. In general terms key findings revealed the difficulties respondent graduates have experienced in finding desirable jobs. It could be argued that, in many respects, the Greek labour market structure is relatively unconducive (and perhaps non-responsive) to graduate employment. There are still weak links between academic establishments and the operation of the labour market in Greece, as most small and family-owned Greek businesses are unable to absorb the increasing number of graduates. Evidence from this study, also showed that there are doubts about whether the skills graduates acquired on HE programmes are those that employers required or were prepared to pay for. 
Overall, the main issue that emerged from our findings was that, graduates’ employment opportunities did not only depend on the nature of their degree studies per se, but also on the extent to which the Greek labour market was able to absorb them. 
    This study challenges the assumptions, so dominant in the European educational policy discourse, concerning the supposed merits of expanding higher education.
Source Paper presented at the 6th international conference on HRD research and practice across Europe: Human resource development - addressing the value. Leeds 25-27 May 2005. (Abstract; full paper incl. in CD-ROM).
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