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Formal, non-formal and informal learning and higher education graduates' reemployment: evidence for Portugal

Lopes, Margarida and Fernandes, Graca (2011): Formal, non-formal and informal learning and higher education graduates' reemployment: evidence for Portugal.

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Unemployment rates among Portuguese Higher Education (HE) graduates have been rising. This trend becomes quite obvious when we compare Portugal and other European Member States whose labor markets have been facing similar difficulties. In fact, Portuguese graduates are not only more prone to facing unemployment but they are also enduring long term unemployment as a result of the current unemployment crisis. Among the main reasons for this situation is the mismatch between the supply and demand for qualifications due to the inability of the Portuguese labor market to absorb higher skills (chimney effect). Nevertheless, competition in demand and the need to overcome labor productivity’s weaknesses create the need for actions (education, training policies and labor market interventions) to improve the match between supply and demand for HE qualifications in order to prevent social disinvestment and to foster inclusion and economic development. In the short and medium term, given the economic and social development strategy, adjustments will consider the need to redefine the HE graduates’ skills and profiles throughout education and training. In this paper we are concerned with the effects on HE unemployed graduates’ reemployment of additional education programs compared to informal and non-formal learning activities. We take life cycle theories and Willis (1986) as our main theoretical reference. We use the database of the Adult Education Survey (AES 2007) developed by the Statistics Portugal, following methodological guidelines issued by EUROSTAT and adopted in all European Union Member States. The survey covers adult participation in formal and Non-Formal Education and informal activities and comprises 11289 cases (individuals). When assessing the main influences of education, non-formal and Informal Learning activities on (re)employment, we use AES data on labor market transitions between two consecutive periods. We control for parents’ education and occupation, individual’s previous schooling, gender and age. Our research methodology is quantitative. We use chi-square independence tests, correlation analysis and tests for equality of proportions. We expect to highlight the ability displayed by non-formal and Informal Learning to redesign educational formal skills, with a special insight into HE skills. The Portuguese HE system tends to be theoretically focused and practical internship is rare even in this post-Bologna phase. Accordingly Non-Formal Education - especially vocational training tailored to labor market occupations - could prove to be a most useful resource in reshaping graduates’ profiles and promoting their employment/reemployment. Informal Learning is also expected to play a major role in the processes of skills acquisition and mobilization related to practical knowledge, thereby enhancing social networking and employability. We aim to assess how much HE programs and non-formal and Informal Learning contribute to enhance graduates’ employment opportunities and to identify pivotal areas for change in HE and non-formal programs.

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