In October 2015, ETC in collaboration with MEDE launched the Employability Index which is one of the measures aimed at facilitating the transition from further and higher education to employment. Overall, the report offers more guidance to students by indicating to the interested audience the potential of finding a job within the line of study being chosen. Its key objective is to identify students that may be at a high risk of experiencing underemployment due to a mismatch between their educational attainment and their occupation. The Employability Index examines this phenomenon of underemployment in Malta by adopting Akkoyunlu Wigley et al’s (2012) two types of mismatches:
- horizontally mismatching where an individual is employed in a job that matches their level of education but not their field of education (i.e. qualified/sector mismatch); and
- vertically mismatching where an individual is employed in a job matching their area of study but not their level of education (i.e. overqualified/sector match).
In accordance with the vertical and horizontal mismatch definitions mentioned above, individuals were classified into four categorical combinations:
- Employment that requires the individual’s level of education AND that matches the relevant area of study (“qualified/match”)
- Employment that requires the individual’s level of education BUT DOES NOT match the relevant area of study (“qualified/mismatch”).
- Employment that matches the individual’s study area BUT DOES NOT require the level of educational qualification attained (“overqualified/match”)
- Employment that NEITHER matches the individual’s study area NOR requires the level of educational qualification attained (“overqualified/ mismatch”).
In this regard, for each individual, the job designation was compared to the qualification obtained to determine whether the individual is qualified or overqualified for the post held. Similarly, the specific qualification achieved was compared to the NACE code of the employer to determine whether the individual’s employment matches the area of study.
Optimal Policy Outcome
From a policy perspective, graduates should ideally fall in the first category (qualified/match) as (out of the four categories under study) it is the one which indicates that optimal use of resources is being made.1
Figures 1 and 2 below portray the proportion of graduates (2012 and 2013 respectively) classified under the qualified/ match category by faculty and year of employment. Judging by the 2012 graduates, the faculties that can be broadly categorized under the Physical Health2 grouping fared best in terms of the qualified/match statistic, while the Institute for Tourism, Travel and Culture and the Faculty of Arts were classified at the other end of the ranking. The greatest change in employment routes seems to have been experienced by the Law graduates, as while in the first year of employment less than one-third found an “ideal” occupation, the corresponding statistic increased to 71.8 per cent after only two years. The fact that this trend is also visible amongst the graduates of the following year seems to confirm this pattern.
Overall, the progression with time of the perfect match score (i.e. the proportion of graduates fulfilling both the qualified/ match category) for both sets of graduates match a priori expectations, since a movement towards employment that coincides with both economic sector and qualification level is evident following the year of graduation. For instance, whereas the initial 2012 UoM graduates that found ideal employment was 65.2 per cent in their year of graduation, an increase of around 8.2 percentage points can be observed after two years. Similarly the initial perfect match rate for the 2013 was 65.5 per cent in the year of graduation but rose to 71.1 per cent in 2014. Besides, a remarkable degree of consistency can also be observed with respect to the initial progression in the success rate: the increase in the proportion of University graduates in the qualified/match category following the first year of employment increased by around 5 percentage points for both 2012 and 2013 classes – reaching 70.0 per cent and 71.1 per cent levels respectively.
Figure 1: 2012 UOM "qualified/ match" Graduates by Faculty and Year of Employment
Figure 2: 2013 UOM "qualified/ match" Graduates by Faculty and Year of Employment
Similar to the above, figures 3 and 4 below depict the progression of MCAST graduates classified under the qualified/ match category by Institute and year of employment. Out of the 2012 graduates, 41.5 per cent of the sample in question was deemed to be employed in an occupation that fulfilled both economic and skill level. This proportion increased by 6.9 percentage points after two years. Furthermore, after two years of employment (i.e. in 2014) students of the Institute for Applied Sciences reported the highest success rate with almost two-thirds of this cohort in the ideal employment category. It is also worthy to note that this represents a remarkable increase of 19.6 percentage points when compared to the same statistic for 2012 graduates (the year in which they obtained their formal qualification). In fact in 2012 such students ranked third from top, but within two years they leapfrogged their counterpart MCAST graduates. Similar progress was also evident for the Institute of Community Services 2012 graduates where in that same year the qualified/match statistic was 33.5 per cent while two years later it increased to 51.0 per cent – a formidable increase of 17.5 percentage points. While various forces could be at work, it is impossible to ignore the effect that increased labour demand could have exerted; as demand for community services ranging from more inclusive learning to more mundane activities such as hair beauty therapy increase, so will the demand for occupations such as Learning Support Assistants and Hair Stylists (i.e. graduates of the Community Services Institute). As a matter of fact, the perfect match statistics for the 2013 graduates of this institute were 46.2 per cent and 59.6 per cent as per employment in 2013 and 2014 respectively. By contrast, a remarkable degree of consistency can be observed amongst the graduates of the Business Management and Commerce Institute, with a “perfect” match rate hovering often between 51.0 per cent and 62.0 per cent irrespective of the graduating class and year of employment.
Figure 3: 2012 MCAST “qualified/ match" Graduates by Institute and Year of Employment
Figure 4: 2013 MCAST “qualified/ match" Graduates by Institute and Year of Employment
Figure 5 shows the progression of the perfect match scores for ITS graduates in a similar fashion to the other educational institutions. An apparent anomaly is evident, since contrary to intuitive expectations, the proportion of 2012 ITS graduates falling in the qualified/ match category increases from 62.8 per cent in 2012, to 67.9 per cent in 2013. However there seems to be a correction for the same class of graduates as per their employment which fell to 63.6 per cent in 2014. This irregularity is probably due to the fact that the sample size of employed 2012 ITS graduates decreased by 4.5 per cent between 2013 and 2014 possibly due to myriad motivations such as the migration of the said students abroad or enrolment in other educational institutions. That being said, when these discrepancies are seen from a broader perspective a pattern becomes notable since the rate for ITS students employed in the best category floated between 59.0 per cent and 68.0 per cent respectively for the graduates and years of employment under review.
Figure 5: ITS "qualified/ match" Graduates by Graduating Class & Year of Employment
Scores by type of education certificate
Figure 6 below shows the percentage of graduates in matching employment by type of certificate3 . In spite of the discrepancies between the UoM and MCAST graduates, when the aggregates of MCAST graduates are broken down according to qualification levels, it is apparent that students following first degree programmes with MCAST performed better (according to the qualified/match criterion) compared to those who obtained certificates and diploma qualifications. Indeed the graduate MCAST scores only lag marginally behind their UoM graduates by circa 12.5 percentage points. At the other end of the spectrum, only 30.9 per cent and 34.8 per cent of the 2012 and 2013 MCAST graduates with certificates of levels 1 and 2 managed to find their “ideal” employment in 2014.
Figure 6: Graduates in Matching Employment as at 2014
1 Data sources: Data on graduates was supplied to ETC by the educational institutions concerned in the study i.e. University of Malta, MCAST and ITS; as L.N. 19 of 2015 relating to the Processing of Personal Data (Education Sector) Regulations, 2015 and Chapter 343 – the Employment and Training Services Act provided the legal basis for this data extraction. Each educational institution provided a list of all the students who graduated in 2012 and 2013, indicating the qualification attained by each respective student for the latter years. Employment data was extracted from the ETC Database, outlining the employment history and specific job designation/occupation of each individual for each employment record. The lists of graduates obtained from educational institutions were then merged with the ETC database data. Once the data was merged, the employment for each graduate (of 2012 and 2013) was followed over a three and two-year period respectively.
2 This is the common theme between the faculties of Medicine & Surgery, Health Science and Dentistry
3 Given that the vast majority (over 90.0 per cent) of UoM students obtained at least a first degree, the observations of this educational institution were not broken down any further.