Survey highlights employer satisfaction with the performance of graduates

A survey spearheaded by the Samoa Qualifications Authority (S.Q.A.) to determine employer satisfaction with the performance of graduates from formal Post School Education and Training (P.S.E.T.) providers has ended with positive results.

The “Employer Satisfaction Survey Report” for 2015, 2016 and 2017 graduates from P.S.E.T. providers in Samoa; and the P.S.E.T. Statistical Bulletin for 2019 were officially launched on Friday at TATTE Building.

The Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, said that across the education sector, there are three key expected outcomes that we need to achieve in the next four years - improved learning outcomes; increased rates of participation & completion; and increased rates of employment for graduates. 

“Measuring the level of achievements of these outcomes at the national and education sector level depends primarily on the information and data presented in these reports,” he added.

Loau also highlighted that the information and data contained in these documents that are essential in determining the level of achievement of the P.S.E.T. sub-sector Key Performance Indicators in the Education Sector Plan (E.S.P.) 2019-2024 and the newly developed Strategy for the Development of Samoa (S.D.S.) 2020-2025. 

“The Employer Satisfaction Survey is conducted every three years to measure the progress of one of the P.S.E.T. indicators in the S.D.S. and the E.S.P. on the percentage of employers of P.S.E.T. graduates satisfied with the application of graduates’ knowledge and skills in the workplace. 

“This survey was the opportunity for employers to assess the knowledge and skills of our graduates, identification of areas needing improvement to ensure their expectations as employers are met by our P.S.E.T. graduates.

“The P.S.E.T. Statistical Bulletin on the other hand; is a very useful source of information measuring the performance of all other P.S.E.T. Key Performance Indicators in the S.D.S. and E.S.P.”

He added that the Bulletin contains statistical information and data on P.S.E.T. enrolments, graduates, lecturers & trainers and the Non-Formal Learning activities recognized by S.Q.A. 

“The information presented in both reports will be of interest to a wide range of people including P.S.E.T. providers, education and policy analysts, students and public & private employers. 

“Provision of high-quality P.S.E.T. will lead to improved value for money for P.S.E.T. investment, enhanced and increased opportunities and pathways for our people, better choices and better options for quality education and better employment opportunities, promoting lifelong learning and an enhanced quality of life.

“I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge with much gratitude the Government of Australia and New Zealand for their continuous financial support under the Education Sector Budget Support which enables the conduct of the Employer Satisfaction Survey amongst other P.S.E.T. / S.Q.A. activities.”

According to the S.Q.A. Chief Executive Officer, Leali’ifano Easter Manila-Silipa, the objectives of the survey were to; determine employers’ level of satisfaction with the generic and technical skills of graduates being used in the workplace; seek employers feedback on the qualities generally expected of employees, in particular, those from P.S.E.T. providers; and to obtain employers' views on how formal P.S.E.T. providers can improve their graduates to better meet the labor market and industry demand for skills.

“A total of 1,395 graduates were targeted in 398 employers. The aim was to obtain supervisors' assessment of the graduates' performance in the workplace. 

“Only 73.7 per cent of graduates’ supervisors were able to provide valid responses to the study. 

“From this proportion, a high percentage of graduates are found to be employed in government ministries and agencies.”

She added that female graduates dominate 62 per cent of the majority of valid responses that were received from employers.  

“Qualifications distribution shows that 68 per cent of graduates hold higher education qualification, and 31 per cent are graduates with TVET graduate qualifications.  

“Moreover, more than 50 per cent of graduates that were assessed by employers are bachelor degree holders, followed by certificate holders.

“Employers also reported that 94 per cent of graduates’ qualifications match their jobs.”

However, Leali’ifano added that in terms of employers’ assessment by field of training/studies, it shows employer satisfaction level consistently high ranging from 96 per cent to 83 per cent across all fields of training, with natural & physical science being the highest. 

The skills analysis by employers shows the need for graduates to improve on their technical skills, such as coaching and mentoring colleagues, ability to set goals and allocate time to achieve them, negotiation skills, management skills in terms of organizational resources & projects and assignments, which received fewer ratings on the graduate performance in the workplace.

Computing skills, critical thinking, communication skills, leadership skills, and interpersonal skills were some of the general skills that employers raised in their assessment for graduates to develop. 

Personal behavior & attribute was also a challenge as employers pushed for graduates to improve on their personal qualities. 

Moreover, to improve the quality of graduates and P.S.E.T. providers, employers have also provided suggestions for both parties to consider. Notable comments that came through employers' assessment are for providers to provide more opportunities for students to be involved in more practical activities, or workplace attachment opportunities to obtain experience, building skills in their area of study. 

Employers also suggest for graduates to pursue further studies to upgrade qualifications and gain more knowledge and skills. Also, P.S.E.T. providers are to update learning & education resources to better training delivery for graduates.

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