Statement: Let’s invest in the future, not in excessive amounts of degrees


Unemployment statistics published by Akavaworks on October  27th 2020 paint a very worrying picture of the employment situation for people with higher education degrees, especially for BBAs and engineering. The number of unemployed people with higher education has risen by 22% over the past year of which the most represented are people with BBAs (an increase of 1,026 or 32.4%) and engineering degrees (an increase of 979 or 22.6%). Even so the amount of students starting in higher education institutes have once again been raised in both fields, without the actual need stemming from work life. We fear this will further highlight the problems that already exist with regard to quality of employment and will be detrimental to students' best interests. 

We have long talked in the Students of Business and Technology and the Finnish Union of Engineering students that universities produce too many engineering and BBA degrees, and the total amount of degrees have not been decided according to the actual needs of work life. When it comes to the number of people in higher education, their unemployment and employment should by no means be analyzed solely by looking at employment figures, but also on other indicators. The quality of their employment must also be taken into account and also look at the number of degrees in relation to the needs of regions.

Looking at quality of employment for our graduates only deepens our concern. In 2019, more than 5,000 BBA degrees were completed, but at the same time, more than a quarter of those who had already graduated still did not work as experts or in management positions. According to a placement survey of recent graduates, only 69% of engineers who graduated in the same year were employed in jobs that required an engineering degree. With regard to all education, it should be ensured that as many people as possible are employed in completing a job corresponding to their degree. The aim should be for every graduate to get a job in line with their expertise, and not just aim blindly at higher total numbers of graduates.

Currently, the effects of the corona crisis on graduates are worrying for those with higher education, as a quarter of unemployed recent graduates are highly educated, according to the study by Akavaworks. Unemployment among recent graduates has increased significantly more among those with higher education (31.6%) than among others (12.5%). This, if any, should raise all of our concern about higher education institutions increasing the amount of starting students.

Looking at higher education regionally, the situation is even more exacerbated. In many places already a disproportionate number of graduates have long been educated in relation to regional needs. This is most radically reflected in areas where almost half of those with a higher education move elsewhere within a year of graduation. If the resources invested in education could be utilized in the same area after graduation too, this would benefit both the individual and the area. It is not in anyone’s best interests to force a significant proportion of graduates to move far from home in search of work.

The time of the pandemic is good to use for investing in the future, which is wise and understandable. However, unemployment statistics cannot be sugar-coated by increasing the number of students receiving degrees, as the effects will only be carried over into the future. Higher education institutions should communicate openly about their reasons for changes in the amounts of degrees they produce and the research they have put into it. Increasing the number of starting students without a need from working life is completely against the best interests of students, depriving them of opportunities for quality employment in their region. If the increase of need for the highly educated workforce cannot be verified regionally, the amount of degrees must not be increased, but rather reduced.

More info:

Teemu Rajala
Insinööriopiskelijaliitto IOL ry
puh. 0400 722 721

Pyry Meriluoto
puh. 040 715 3102