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Graduates from Åbo Akademi University give high marks for the education they received – emphasis on networks and initiative

Graduates from Åbo Akademi University are satisfied with their degree and are well placed in employment. In addition to theory, students also develop initiative, information management skills and an analytical, systematic approach to thinking.

Åbo Akademi University Career Services regularly gathers information on employment and careers among graduates. This information is used to provide career counselling to students and to develop the courses themselves.

The most recent career survey was conducted among students who graduated from Åbo Akademi University in 2018 and 2014 to gain an idea of their situation in 2019, i.e. one and five years after graduation, respectively.

9 out of every 10 graduates employed

In 2018, 564 students with a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree graduated from Åbo Akademi University. They entered the job market when the relative employment rate in Finland was nearly 73%, which was the highest level since the 1990s.

The career survey shows that 90% of students graduating in 2018 were employed one year after earning their degrees. Just over 50% were permanently employed in full-time positions, just over 30% were in fixed-term employment arrangements and just over 4% held part-time jobs. A small number of the graduates were self-employed, continued their studies or were on family leave. Just under 4% were still seeking employment.

“The number of graduates with permanent employment varies from faculty to faculty, which is a reflection of the job market offering employment to graduates. As a rule, the private sector offers more permanent employment opportunities, while those entering a career in the municipal sector are often hired for fixed-term positions,” explains Anita Sundman, a co-ordinator with Career Services.

In 2014, 573 students with a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree graduated from Åbo Akademi University. They entered a job market in Finland that was still recovering from a recession. The national employment rate had fallen to 67%.

Five years after earning their degrees, 86% of the students graduating in 2014 held full-time positions.  61% were permanently employed, 14% held fixed-term, full-time positions, 7% were employed part-time, 5% were entrepreneurs and 4% were on family leave.

“Åbo Akademi University’s goal is to ensure that our graduates have the highest employment rate compared to other multidisciplinary universities. Looking at our own surveys, we have a very high rate of employment – in national surveys, the rate is lower. This is due to the fact that the national data doesn’t take the percentage of people who move abroad into consideration,” says Sundman.

Many scientists head overseas

Åbo Akademi University provides education to meet Finland’s need for experts in Swedish, which is why it is also relevant to monitor where recent graduates work after they receive their degree. One year after graduating, more than one-third worked in southern Finland, the Uusimaa region and the Capital Region. Approximately the same percentage worked in Southwest Finland and just under a quarter in Ostrobothnia.

Many graduates head overseas after they earn their degree.

“The most recent figures we have are from 2017 and 2018, when slightly more than 12 per cent sought employment abroad. This is a significantly higher percentage than most of the other multidisciplinary universities in Finland. Of the graduates who move abroad, scientists make up the biggest group, but educators, humanists, economists and social scientists also move overseas,” says Sundman.

In recent years, special attention has been given to where teachers are placed at the regional level. Statistics show that over half of teachers with a degree from Åbo Akademi University worked in Ostrobothnia one year after graduating. Almost 90% of the early childhood education graduates who earned their degree on the Jakobstad campus in spring 2018 worked in Ostrobothnia. Just over 10% of classroom and special education teachers worked abroad.

Networks important to working life

The career survey shows that 84% of the graduates are satisfied with their degree. Likewise, 84% felt that they had earned a high-quality degree and 80% felt the degree provided them with adequate competence to perform their work in their respective fields.

However, 41% of the graduates felt that the degree was not sufficient enough to find them employment. Work experience was also a prerequisite. Graduates from English-language Master’s degree programmes encountered even more difficulties finding a job without work experience.

“We see that work experience, networks, contacts, the thesis and internships play a major role in ensuring a smooth transition to working life. Especially students with an international background need help building networks with working life. We need to get better at including them in our networks,” says Sundman.

In the survey, the graduates say that their studies helped them develop working life skills, such as how to learn, take the initiative, analytic and systematic approaches to thinking and skills in searching for information. When it comes to skills in entrepreneurship and self-employment, Åbo Akademi University received lower marks.

“We have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to showing students what the opportunities are for developing their entrepreneurial skills, such as with elective courses, internships or joining in organisations.

“In this case, career follow-ups are also a key tool. On the basis of these, we can show our students what the real needs are in working life and Åbo Akademi gets feedback on the interface between school and working life,” explains Sundman.

Responses affect funding

This autumn, a new career survey will be conducted among Åbo Akademi University alumni, except this time it will be given to graduates with a Master’s degree and pharmacists, notaries and teachers in early childhood education from 2015 and 2019. Doctors who graduated in 2017 will also be given their own survey. They will be contacted by mail or text message. The survey will be conducted nationally in co-operation with other Finnish universities.

The responses received affect university funding. According to the funding model, which will enter into effect in 2021, employment following graduation and the quality of employment will result in 4% of the funding granted.

More information on how graduates from Åbo Akademi University place on the labor market.