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Requirements Higher Education Graduates Meet on the Labor Market

Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 90, No. 4

Edith M. P. Braun, International Centre for Higher Education Research Kassel

Julia-Carolin Brachem, Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung


In Europe and all over the world, higher education systems face the challenge of preparing an in- creasing number of students for the labor market and teaching them discipline-related knowledge and competences as well as generic competences. But what requirements do higher education graduates actually meet on the labor market? To identify higher education graduates’ generic job-related activities and requirements, a literature review was conducted that considered 30 job analysis questionnaires and publications. Additionally, transcripts from employer interviews, which were conducted by a co- operating project, were analyzed. Based on these materials, 49 generic job-related activities and requirements could be identified and transformed into a questionnaire based on the assumptions of the Job Requirements Approach. After running an online survey with 10,511 higher education grad- uates and using reliability and confirmatory factor analyses, eight conceptual areas of job-relevant generic competences could be confirmed (“Planning and organizing of work processes,” “Promoting others,” “Leading,” “Dealing autonomously with challenging tasks,” “Information processing,” “Number processing,” “Communicating in foreign languages,” and “Physical performance”). The results demonstrate what higher education graduates are doing at work, what requirements they are facing, and which conceptual areas of job-relevant generic competences can be applied to higher education graduates in general. The results can be interesting for curriculum developers and academic quality managers, for policymakers and employers, and for the scientific community and the graduates themselves.