Graduate Career Tracking - Who is it Good for and Why?
One of the highlighted objectives of career tracking is to help in career planning during and after the years spent at university or college. It strives to provide practical and useful answers to questions that arise, especially in the transition period between higher education and work.
The main advantage of career tracking is that it helps in obtaining a (more) realistic perspective on the labour market and the employment opportunities open to graduates. That is not to mention the higher education institutions themselves, which can also learn from the surveys. The results may encourage institutions to adapt their study programmes to meet the demands of the labour market. Those participating on the labour market can also obtain a clearer picture of what knowledge and competencies may be expected from a young graduate from any given major.
Graduate career tracking is the first step into the world of work. It is worth thinking about the future at the right point in time. Ideally all applicants should know when they apply, what the likelihood of their finding employment with their future degrees is and where. When choosing a college or university, the opinions and experiences of students graduating there should be taken into consideration. Information of this kind is difficult to obtain today. Graduate career tracking will help to change that. Tracking the careers of graduates and the information that emerges from it, will provide useful information for students and fresh graduates, as well as for applicants to higher education.
The most frequent aspects on which applicants base their choice of university or college are: the reputation of the institution, the programme of study, the prestige of the job it leads to, and the opinions expressed in their immediate environment. Making a decision is still not simple. People know that they want to study further. They have an image of what they would like to study. They are sure that they want a degree that will enable them to earn a good living. But how can they find out which profession will be profitable in 4-5 years time? These are the most common dilemmas that applicants and students have to face. Graduate career tracking helps in obtaining a perspective on what a degree from a given institution will be worth after graduation. People can also discover how satisfied the students of any given major were with their study programme, and the extent to which they can use the knowledge they acquired in their work.
Graduate career tracking can be an indispensable source of information providing great help for both future and present students.
Institutions, Labour Market
Universities and colleges mainly use the results of the research for marketing purposes. The higher the proportion of graduates from any given major that find employment in good positions, the better the reputation of the school and the more students it attracts. But the question of what happens in the opposite situation can also be asked. The first threat might be that if it emerges that finding employment from certain fields of study is difficult, that may result in the termination of those fields of study. This is not the case. Although it is true that if there is publicity that the graduates of a particular major are less sought after on the labour market, it will affect the number of applicants over time, with subsequent changes in funding, too. However, from this it cannot be inferred that either majors or institutions will be terminated. It only confronts leaders with problems that perhaps would not otherwise come to the surface, providing them with the opportunity to change and find solutions. In the career tracking survey we do not only find out that a given study programme makes it easier or more difficult to find employment, but we are also able obtain an answer to the question of why that is so. That is, that graduates do not find jobs because their knowledge does not meet the expectations of the employer, or because the market is already saturated with qualified professionals. Armed with this knowledge, institutions have the opportunity to find solutions, for example, they may change the study programme to better meet the demands of employers.
The Graduate Career Tracking program implemented within the framework of the New Hungary Development Plan (Új Magyarország Fejlesztési Terv), and within that the Social Renewal Operative Program (Társadalmi megújulás Operatív Program) (TÁMOP), contributes to spreading this service among Hungarian colleges and universities. Graduate career tracking is the first major step toward convergence between higher education and the demands of the labour market. It may improve the competitiveness of institutions not to mention the quality of Hungarian higher education.