Graduate Career Tracking: Expectations and Reality
As the preparatory work to developing the central graduate career tracking system, and in establishing the programme, it was important to prepare specialist interviews with researchers, higher education and education policy experts, as well as professional career consultants.
In interviews conducted on the basis of unified themes, we asked general questions about the labour market and higher education and about the circumstances of the implementation of the programme, the legal background, the development opportunities at institutional level and centralised, national-level career tracking.
Most experts emphasised the complexity of the relationship between higher education and the labour market. Proper communication and the flow of information may constitute the basic element or cornerstone of cooperation between the two sectors; one of the main tasks of graduate career tracking may actually be obtaining information, while participants on the labour market and in education may also be beneficiaries of a properly operating career tracking system. Career tracking surveys certainly raise serious methodological problems. Many have called attention to the problem that copying foreign examples would not be a viable solution since there are no generally accepted international standards in graduate career tracking and the surveys generate serious debate in most countries. Reaching graduates and increasing their willingness to respond assumes close relationships between the institution and its students; while compiling the themes of the questionnaires and assessing the results obtained requires in-depth professional knowledge from the researchers. Publicity is another important issue, which is fundamental in terms of the utilisation of results as well as objectivity and controllability.
Many have raised the importance of connecting to already existing educational information systems-in addition to data collection and keeping in contact-the connection with electronic systems may also give the surveys the capacity to establish relationships between career tracking results with achievements at university, the subjects studied and professional specifics. The general opinion that the results of graduate career tracking are not of practical to use in the ranking of institution is partially related to methodological difficulties and the interpretation of the function of career tracking.
The experts we consulted, however, have serious expectations of the operation of the graduate career tracking system. Most of them expect greater harmony in the relationship between market processes and education, a strengthening the relationship between higher education and the labour market, and more intense communication. The system may help map up market demands and give feedback and precise information about the operation of the market to the institution.
The experiences of the expert interviews are summarised in our publication Graduate Career Tracking I - Domestic and International Trends (Diplomás Pályakövetés I - Hazai és nemzetközi tendenciák).