Study finds staggering 41 percent of graduates jobless

By Joyetter Luamanu ,

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Fifty nine percent of graduates from formal Post School Education Training (P.S.E.T.) providers are employed. The rest are jobless.

That’s what the Samoa Qualifications Authority Tracer Study of 2012, 2013, and 2014 Graduates found. The national study of graduates is done by the S.Q.A. on a triennial basis; the first of its kind was conducted in 2013.

According to the study, a large proportion of employed graduates actually “work for employers for pay” where as the rest are engaged in other paid activities (self-employed). 

Moreover, for unemployed graduates, 24.4 percent are “pursuing further studies’ while the rest occupy themselves with other unpaid activities”.

“Graduate tracer studies or graduate destination surveys, are a key source of evidence about the effectiveness of P.S.E.T. 

“The S.Q.A, in particular, has its mandate to improve the quality of the education and training provided by accredited P.S.E.T. providers. 

“Accreditation procedures are moving to a greater emphasis on the outcomes that graduates achieved. 

“The S.Q.A. also works to ensure that the P.S.E.T. system meets agreed quality standards.

“A national tracer study is needed to cross check the annual information PSET providers should be collecting on graduate outcomes. 

“This is an opportunity to conduct a more comprehensive analysis of their labour market outcomes. “This is done by collecting information about how graduates have fared in the local and international labour markets over a period of time. 

“Tracer studies for the P.S.E.T. providers are an important source of feedback about the value of the qualifications they offer. 

“It gives good feedback to P.S.E.T. providers on the graduates’ assessments of the relevance in their new job on the education and training they have received. 

“It is important in the future, for P.S.E.T. providers to show each year that they have information about employment outcomes of graduates and their assessment of the relevance of the education and training they have received. 

“They will also need to show they are using this information for continuous improvement through program reviews.” 

The special benefits of the study offer information not available from any other data source. 

Another significant aspect of the study is the assessment of the match between graduates’ jobs and the field of study of their qualifications.  It also seeks feedback from the graduates on the relevance and quality of the education and training they received in light of the skills they need in the workplace. 

“As a special purpose study, it is important to carry it out at the point of service delivery (or by the providers) and at the national level (like this study).” 

These studies are a good practice for all formal P.S.E.T. providers so that they continue to improve with the evidence from their graduates and the employers. 

Providers need to show what their graduates have achieved. 

“The Government, in boosting economic growth as a whole or in specific sectors, needs to know how well the supply of skills from P.S.E.T. is meeting the demand from the sectors. 

“This helps the Government to justify their continued investment in P.S.E.T. 

“The employers also want up to date information on the employment rates of graduates with skills relevant to their business, and average weekly income they earn for those qualifications. 

“They also want to know which providers have good employment outcomes to decide on which providers to work with on work placements for students during their studies. 

“Potential students, current students, their parents and career counselors want to know what set of skills offer good career prospects in terms of pay levels and opportunities for further skills acquisition and advancement. 

“This information will help them to choose which field of study to invest their time and money to acquire.” 

There were three main objectives of the study: to identify the employment status of formal P.S.E.T. graduates of 2012, 2013, and 2014; to assess whether education and training is relevant to the skill needs and requirements of employment ;and to determine factors of why some graduates are not finding employment.

A list of 4,695 graduates was compiled from the information submitted by 20 formal P.S.E.T. providers to S.Q.A. through the P.S.E.T. Annual Survey in 2015. 

“This number consisted of all graduates that completed studies in the calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The total number of qualifications listed was171.

“The S.Q.A. targeted all the listed graduates to meet the study’s objectives, and also to gather enough information to meet the Education Sector key indicator –the percentage of PSET graduates finding employment within 6 months.

“With this target, the S.Q.A. focused on achieving a 70 percent response rate.

“During the first national study in 2013, the S.Q.A. only targeted graduates with T.V.E.T. qualifications, from just 8 formal P.S.E.T. providers.

“Graduates from the Australian-Pacific Technical College (A.P.T.C.) were excluded in the 2013 study and in this one, as they are being surveyed independently by the A.P.T.C.

“The first set of questionnaire focuses on the employment outcomes of graduate qualifications (whether in paid employment, type of employment, wage or income, and the job/skills match). 

“The second focuses on graduates’ own assessment of different aspects of the education and training they received. 

“The third focuses on graduates’ skills and knowledge gained and not gained. Graduates were invited to offering their own words what skills and knowledge they received and had not received based on their current activities. 

“This last outcome also focuses on graduates’ own assessment of the usefulness and relevance of skills and knowledge received,” says the report. 

It also focuses on obtaining graduates ‘suggestions for improving the P.S.E.T. providers and their programmes. 

RECOMMENDATIONS 

The report concluded with a discussion of findings and the lessons drawn from the analysis of the results.

It is recommended that the S.Q.A. works closely with the P.S.E.T. providers offering qualifications with low employment outcomes to show cause as to whether offering these qualifications are justified at all or on a smaller or less frequent scale as they are being offered at present. 

“Providers offering qualifications with a specific sector focus need to provide evidence to employers that these qualifications are also providing generic competencies that can be applied in other work settings as well. 

“It is recommended that the S.Q.A. ensure that key competencies related to employability are incorporated into the competency profile of sector specific qualifications. 

“P.S.E.T. providers can improve the employment outcomes of their graduates by ensuring that they have relevant work experience with employers (specifically for programmes that must have practical components).

It is recommended that S.Q.A. develop and promote a good practice guide to P.S.E.T. providers and to the public about the benefits of work placements. 

“S.Q.A. to continuously work with P.S.E.T. providers using tracer study findings to improve the quality and relevancy of their programmes delivered to ensure parents are getting value for their money and graduates graduated with recognised qualifications.. 

“It is recommended that tracer study findings are included in the Career Advisory Services activities such as the school visits and National Career Day events particularly on information related to employment outcomes of specific qualifications, relevancy of qualifications/skills/knowledge to employment and the wages earned by graduates in specific occupations.

“It is recommended that the S.Q.A. include a request for other related information and that a template of key questions be developed and circulated to all providers. 

“It is recommended that P.S.E.T. providers provide accurate and complete graduates’ information to the S.Q.A. through its P.S.E.T. Annual Survey. 

“They are also encouraged to conduct their own graduate studies for each qualification offered within six to nine months after graduation as well as promote the use of a simple, low cost methodology, as outlined in the S.Q.A. tracer study training manual. 

“In addition, providers conducting tracer studies to submit report to S.Q.A. to assist in the conduct on the national tracer study every three years.

“The S.Q.A. continues to conduct a national tracer study every three years to cross check the information that providers are reporting on an annual basis and to carry out more complex analysis of the labor market outcomes,” says the 30-page report.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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