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									New Perspectives
  for Learning

                                              The effect of Educational Expansion
 Briefing Paper 32                                   on the Labour Market
                                  Full title of the project: Educational Expansion and the Labour Market

                                  Context of the Research
Research Institutions:
                                  This project examined the effects of greater education opportunities and higher education
Université des Sciences           levels on the labour market. The aim was to analyse the long-term consequences of the rise
Sociales de Toulouse, FR
                                  in levels of education on access to employment and on human resources management.
London School of
Economics, UK                     Taking a comparative approach, four major questions were addressed: -
Zentrum für Sozialforschung
Halle, DE                                What are the processes and factors of influence leading to educational expansion?
                                         How have generations with increasing levels of qualification spread throughout
Centro di Ricerche
Economiche e Sociali, IT                  the employment system, and with what returns?
                                         What has been the influence on company organisation and management of human
Universitat Autònoma                      resources and what links have been established between skills supply and
Barcelona, ES
Center for Research On                   What are the implications for national systems linking education with
Innovation and Society, USA               employment, and to what extent are countries converging or diverging?
European Centre for the
Development of Vocational         The analyses provide a well-founded basis to understand and shape the links between
Training, GR                      education and employment, and thus between the supply of and demand for skills on the
                                  labour markets.

                                  Key Conclusions
Contact address:                  The following key conclusions are based on collaborative research conducted by British,
Prof Catherine Béduwé             French, German, Italian and Spanish teams, with comparative reference to the United
Université des Sciences           States.
Sociales LIRHE & CNRS
Place Anatole France,Bat.J
Toulouse                              1. Education Expansion: -
31042 France                                    Relies on the equality of opportunity.
                                                Has a low sensitivity to economic cycles.
Tel: +33 561633876
Fax: +33 561633860                              Seems to have recently stabilised in most countries studied.
Email:                     Has mainly been driven by families and the State, although employers have
                                                 had an indirect influence on vocational education expansion.
                                                After 1935, each generation has become more highly educated than the
                                                 previous one in all countries studied.
                                                Was supported by development of explicit initial qualification levels.
                                                Is a product of longer compulsory education and an increase in post-
                                                 compulsory education.
This research project has been                  Has led to a considerable fall in the amount of people with no
funded by DG-Research under the                  qualifications.
Targeted Socio-Economic
Research (TSER) Programme of
                                                Has shifted the emphasis towards higher education.
FP4                                             Has resulted in the catching up of countries where education was poorly
                                                 developed. But structural differences still remain between countries despite
                                                 a similar growth in development.
                                                Has resulted in more development within systems where general and
                                                 vocational education is under the single responsibility of one State
                                                 compared to those that are not.
The effect of education expansion on qualifications within occupations: -

    2. The labour market is based on the supply and the demand for skills. Individuals have access to a specific job if they
       have the minimum skills required, consisting of a combination of their qualifications and their working experience.
       Although, the level of formal education taken tends to be the main way of acquiring and reaching the required skills,
       work experience can also be a substitute for skills acquisition.
    3. Educational expansion has spread within all occupations under the strong impact of educational supply. It barely
       depends on changes in the size of occupations.
    4. Overall, educational expansion has been remunerated, as a result of changes in access conditions to jobs.
    5. Because of the increase in the number of those eligible for management positions, the likelihood of being appointed has
       tended to decline amongst generations born after 1940.
    6. Qualifications also have a symbolic social value. Therefore, if their value decreases, some people will lower their
       expectations and others will aim for higher qualifications.
    7. The educational system has been an increasingly important variable for young people's careers.
    8. The educational demands of new generations are expected to be more variable and flexible, as they will follow
       economic situations more closely.

The effect of education expansion on employers and the labour market: -

    9. Education levels of recruitment are rising in all the five countries and across the sectors studied.
    10. Companies are undergoing technological and organisational changes that are leading, in human resource management
        terms, to a greater need for skills and flexibility.
    11. Educational expansion and the resulting increase in more qualified people was a response to employers' actual and
        anticipated needs for more adaptive skills.
    12. Continuing education and training is becoming increasingly important for the development of skills required by
        employers. Therefore companies could encourage their staff to return to study through this route.

The effect of education expansion on government and the economy: -

    13. Post-compulsory education is a crucial factor in stabilising or raising education levels, yet the development and
        diversification of higher education is dependent on National policy.
    14. Up to now, the needs for better qualified workers in the economy have been satisfied by States who has anticipated
        these needs by expanding education; and by families who have encouraged more participation in education. In this way
        both stakeholders have anticipated the needs of the economy.
    15. Governments are encouraging greater flexibility and accessibility within the education system without any substantial
        change in the overall costs of education.
    16. Changes in the education system are generally responses to socio-economic tensions and developments.
    17. The needs of the economy may not necessarily to be the same as employers’ needs, which tend to be dominated by
        short- term requirements. Therefore, education institutions and governments must adopt a long-term vision of
        educational development in response to the longer-term needs of the economy.
    18. However, the economic and employment markets cannot be expected to provide education systems with the long-term
        information they need to guide their development.
    19. The skills demanded by the economy of one State are jointly produced by its education and employment system.
        However, each State’s education and employment systems are different requiring cooperation between both systems if
        all the States are to become standardised.
Key Recommendations
The following recommendations were made: -

    1. There should be no standardisation of the education systems throughout Europe. However, there should be a gradual
       build up of some common points of reference, especially for similar levels of education.

    2. There could be changes in the area of skills development where certificated courses provided by continuing or lifelong
       education complement and partially replace the certificated courses provided by initial education systems. This would
       take the form of: -

          a) Greater flexibility in young peoples’ educational demands.
          b) Some form of work during compulsory education.
          c) New opportunities to choose between continuing compulsory education and returning to study after a period of
          d) The creation of opportunities for workers to access continuous education and training.

    3. There is a need for universities to demonstrate that the education they offer is adequate for this increasingly complex
    4. Education systems should mainly focus on providing compulsory education in the context of meeting macro economic
       needs and employers' requirements.
    5. However, educational institutions should avoid being dependent on employers as they are governed by the temporary
       economic needs of the market.
    6. Educational institutions should move away from managing education in a more traditional academic manner as this
       ignores social and economic needs.
    7. There is a need for a greater understanding of individuals; institutions and employers time scales for skill development,
       because employers generally look at short-term skills that suit the market without worrying about their future use,
       whereas individuals generally undertake long periods of education in their youth and have long-term expectations for
       the skills they acquire.

The Final Report and results of this project are available:
The report will be published in paper format by the INEM in April 03.

French version published by LIRHE, Toulouse, France
English version published by CEDEFOP, Thessaloniki, Greece
Spanish version published by Ministère du travail, Madrid, Espagne
The English version of the full report is available through CEDEFOP at
Full report (French version), Full report (Spanish version), Partner details, Website

Key Publications

Béduwé & Germe, Les logiques de l'élévation des niveaux de formation : de la hausse à la stabilisation", note Lirhe 03-02,
(Toulouse), January 2003.

Planas, Sala & Vivas Prospettive dell’istruzione in Spagna.(2000-2020) Quaderni di Economia del Lavoro 74 p91-108, 2002.

Planas, Sala & Vivas, Il mercato delle competenze: nuove strategie. Quaderni di Economia del Lavoro 74 p109-129,

Planas & Sala Education/employment interfaces. Skills and statistical coverage. Eurostat: Education and training
statistics and the functioning of labour markets 10th CEIES (Eurostat) Seminar, Office for Official. Publications of
European Communities, p163-171 (Luxembourg), 2001.
Frey & Ghignoni, Istruzione, prospettive professionali e di reddito, e comportamento dell'offerta di lavoro giovanile,
Aa. Vv., Flessibilità, istruzione e lavoro giovanile in Italia, Quaderni di Economia del Lavoro n. 68, Franco Angeli,
p63-96, (Milano), 2000.

Ghignoni E., Frontiere di competenza, "overeducation" e rendimento economico dell'istruzione nei mercati del lavoro
italiani degli anni '90 Rivista di Politica Economica, p115-158, July - August 2001.

Frey & Ghignoni, Fattori istituzionali, fattori demografici e capitale umano nel Mezzogiorno d'Italia, Aa. Vv.,
L'importanza della riforma universitaria in corso in Italia, Quaderni di Economia del Lavoro n. 74, p129-168, Franco
Angeli, (Milano), 2002.

Ghignoni, Istruzione e condizioni monetarie e non monetarie di lavoro nel Mezzogiorno, Aa. Vv., L'importanza della
riforma universitaria in corso in Italia, Quaderni di Economia del Lavoro n. 74, p169-189, Franco Angeli, (Milano),

To be published

Fourcade & Haas, L'université moins attractive ? Les transformations récentes de l'accès à l'enseignement supérieur en
France et en Allemagne. Félouzis G. (sous la direction de), L'enseignement supérieur en questions. Presses
Universitaires Françaises (Paris), September 2003.

Haas J. Les transformations récentes de l'accès à l'enseignement supérieur en Allemagne. Education and Formation,
numéro spécial Enseignement supérieur, May 2003.

Aubry & Dauty F, Professionnalisation du supérieur : entre dynamique des emplois et des modes de recrutement et
conséquences de la hausse du niveau d'éducation des jeunes, le cas des formations banque. Education et Formation, n°
spécial sur l'enseignement supérieur, May 2003.

Planas & Sala Escenarios de futuro para la educación en España, Revista de Educación, Espagne, 2003
This Briefing Paper has been prepared by pjb Associates with funding from DG- Research. For more information about other Briefing Papers
of the “New Perspectives for Learning” series visit or you may contact: pjb Associates,
tel.: +44-1353-667973.

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