University of Oulu, 2019

University of Oulu graduates successful in securing employment – the ability to pitch one’s expertise the key factor

The employment of alumni is surveyed through an annual, nationwide career monitoring survey. A majority of the graduates are satisfied with both their degree and current career.

The career monitoring survey monitors the integration of graduating students into working life. The results of the 2019 career monitoring survey apply to students who graduated with any master’s degree or alternatively with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education in 2014. The career monitoring of doctors applied to those who completed their degree in 2016.

Masters from the University of Oulu have been very successful in finding employment: 92 percent of the respondents are employed. 61 percent of them have permanent full-time jobs and 18 percent have fixed-term full-time jobs. Five percent were self-employed as entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs’ share was three percent in the previous career monitoring survey focusing on master’s degree graduates in 2013. Doctors have similar rates of employment; 90 percent of them are employed. Compared to masters, fewer doctors have permanent full-time jobs (52%) while a larger number have fixed-term full-time jobs.

Nearly a half of the masters from the University of Oulu work in private companies while one-third work in the municipal sector. The percentages have changed: according to the previous survey, the most significant employer of 2013 graduates was the municipal sector. 36 percent of doctors are employed by the university. The second biggest employer is the private sector.

The gross salaries of alumni have increased since the previous survey. The median gross salary of masters was €3,700 whereas those who graduated a year earlier had a median salary of €3,500. The median salary of doctors also rose from €4,000 the year before to €4,300.

Masters employed in jobs equivalent to their education

86 percent of masters from the University of Oulu were satisfied with their degree in terms of their career, and a similar number would recommend their education to others. 83 percent were able to utilise the know-how acquired at the university in their current roles and 86 percent were satisfied with their current career.

“At an incredibly young age, I have had the opportunity to do work I used to dream about as a student. Right now, I have had a permanent position for two years,” says a respondent in their open feedback.

According to the respondents, key factors in terms of securing employment were the ability to pitch one’s own expertise, other work experience and the combination of subjects in one’s degree. The open responses referred to factors such as one’s own activity, a positive attitude and the impact of coincidence and good luck.

Failure to take full advantage of doctoral degrees at work

82 percent of doctors were satisfied with their doctoral degree in terms of their career. The respondents estimated that their doctoral degree had led to more meaningful (52%) and demanding (63%) jobs, a higher salary (58%) and a better position in the job market (44%).

73 percent of the respondents had a job, which corresponded to their doctoral education in terms of complexity. The percentage was clearly lower than with master’s degree graduates. A doctoral degree was the qualification requirement for only 36% of the doctors’ jobs. However, nearly a half agreed that the expertise delivered by the degree played a key role in their job.

“I have been very satisfied with my doctoral degree. Academically, I have been given meaningful and demanding tasks and roles. However, the degree is not relevant to my current job on a practical level and I cannot take advantage of my expertise in the way I would like. The root cause of the problem lies with the organisation and its structures, not the doctoral degree itself,” says a respondent in their open feedback.

Fewer periods of unemployment

40 percent of masters had undergone periods of unemployment after their graduation. 40 percent of them were unemployed for less than six months, and 47 percent had undergone only one period of unemployment. Compared to graduates from the year before, they more rarely had long or recurring periods of unemployment.

“A long period of unemployment right after graduation was demoralising, particularly because it felt like employers were not interested in my strengths. Since then, I have been lucky to see that they are interested after all,” says a respondent in open feedback.

Compared to masters, fewer doctors (29%) have had periods of unemployment.

Education to be developed based on the results

The survey results reveal the extent to which education has prepared graduates for working life. Responding to the survey is important in terms of developing education.

“The survey helps us to further develop learning goals, content and teaching methods, taking into account the working life aspect,” says Helka-Liisa Hentilä, Vice Rector for Education.

Based on the results, the University of Oulu does not stand out among Finnish universities. If an excellent student experience is the goal, the University of Oulu must be able to catch up in this regard as well.

“Particular targets of development include interdisciplinary research, operating in multi-professional groups and entrepreneurial skills. We have already taken measures with regard to these and aim to continue the development work,” says Hentilä.

Response rate affects funding

The response rate of the University of Oulu (38%) was slightly below the average of all universities. The response rate of our university dropped 1.2 percentage points from the previous year. The career monitoring survey is organised through nationwide cooperation in which the group of respondents is approached by text messages and letters. 

“We have also activated our alumni through alumni communications and will continue to do so in the coming round as well,” says Hentilä.

In addition to the survey results, the response rate itself directly affects the basic funding of the university. The next career monitoring survey will begin on 1 October 2020, with the target group including master’s degree graduates from 2015 and doctoral degree graduates from 2017.

Text by Iia Paloheimo

Last updated: 15.6.2020