Employability or vocation? Eight out of 10 students who pass the EBAU this year will choose which degree to take depending on the professional opportunities they have, according to the university office of the University-Company Foundation. A criterion that leads us directly to the careers of Engineering and Architecture and Health Sciences, which are the ones that higher employability recorded (with 92.4 and 88.4%), followed by those related to Legal and Social Sciences (88.3), while it distances us from degrees in Sciences and Arts and Humanities (with 80.9 and 78.4 employment rate). But should the labor market be the final selection criterion? “To that student who has just completed the selectivity and who still harbors doubts, I would tell him to think, first, about what he likes. It may sound very romantic, but it is also critical… In the end, it will be your profession and your life,” says Víctor Briones, vice-rector for Studies at the Complutense University from Madrid.
Vocation then? Neither one nor the other, because, he points out, “employability is dynamic, and a degree that now has a wonderful employment rate (for example, those with a technology base), in four or five years may have changed a lot or have a curriculum that has become outdated. For Briones, it is also convenient to take into account other objective aspects such as the positions occupied by the different degrees in the rankings, the existence of agreements and conventions for external internships in companies, or if they have a certain degree of internationalization that allows the student to take some semesters in universities outside of Spain.
Careers with more employability
A single look at the labor market reveals to what extent the pandemic continues to condition the demand for qualifications. In 2021, and for the second consecutive year, careers related to the field of health are the ones that have increased their weight the most in job offers, becoming for the first time the most demanded (46.96%) and almost doubling the numbers from the previous year, driven both by the need to cover casualties caused by the health crisis and to alleviate the lack of human resources in hospitals and health centers. Medicine (and Biomedicine) has been the degree with the most professional opportunities (gathering 13.41% of the offers), followed by Nursing, which only two years ago was in seventh place (with 12.42%) and Administration and Management of Companies (with 5.36%), as revealed by the Adecco Infoemployment Report.
The top 10 are completed by graduates in the double degree of ADE and Law, Industrial Engineering, Computer Science, Physiotherapy, Commerce and Marketing, Psychology and Psychopedagogy and Education and Pedagogy. And with markedly growing importance, all the disciplines related to the digital transformation that the pandemic has accelerated: data science, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, extended realities, mathematics and physics, and even others. sectors such as animation, video games or digital design. The degrees encompassed in the area of Arts and Humanities are, on the contrary, those with the least employability. By autonomous communities, four of them (Madrid, Andalusia, Catalonia and Castilla y León) concentrate more than half (54.75%) of the job offers aimed at university students.
But these are not the only areas with good job prospects. “There is a certain tendency now to create transversal degrees, in which several faculties participate and that give these studies a multidisciplinary air and a versatility that is highly appreciated by employers”, explains Briones. “Degrees, for example, associated with data science or criminalistics, and that receive contributions from medicine, law, economics, political science, sociology or social work.” The vice-rector, who is also a veterinarian, also highlights the “tremendous employability” of everything that has to do with food, not only with regard to nutrition and dietetics (that is, the part that has to do with people and the effect of food on them), but also with Food Science and Technology (which deals with their composition and properties, their processing, food biotechnology and quality management, among other aspects).
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
Demanding grades and job insecurity
At this point, it is necessary to comment on a certain paradox: leading the demand for university degrees in job offers does not at all guarantee good working conditions. This is the case of the two careers mentioned above, Medicine and Nursing, whose access to the labor market is far from being in line with the demands that both degrees entail. In 2019, and according to Elisa Silió, 86.6% of doctors and 70.6% of biomedical doctors worked, four years after graduating, in precarious conditions, on scholarships, with temporary contracts, internships or emigrated to other countries, and since 2015 there are fewer vacancies for MIRs than the number of applicants. Nurses, for their part, face a chronic shortage of professionals and difficult workloads that make many decide to also pack their bags. On the opposite side, 96.4% of Dentistry graduates, who four years after finishing have stable salaried jobs.
For Briones, it is worth asking if “there is not a certain inflation of educational centers that offer some degrees, and if that inflation does not lead to a quality of training that could be improved.” Going to the university rankings, he points out, can be a good way to ensure that the degrees offered are of the highest quality, always bearing in mind that “those trained in institutions with a high level of demand and quality generally have a higher employability rate. Another solution would be to reduce the number of students who access certain degrees, something that does not depend exclusively on each university: “The Academic Organization authorities of each autonomous community should keep an eye on this issue and make some decisions. You cannot be constantly expanding the offer, because later you find yourself with a labor market that is not infinitely expandable”, he claims.
For the doubters, some advice
With their sights set on the results of the EBAU, and the uncertainty of whether or not they will be sufficient to reach the cut-off mark required in the desired studies, many students are still not sure about the degree or even the institution in which they will start. his university journey. Precisely for them, the university center u-tad has drawn up a series of recommendations that should be taken into account before opting for one option or another:
- identify your tastes and preferences, your abilities and your aptitudes, and try to study a career that develops them.
- Find out about what kind of jobs correspond to the degree you are considering, and try to visualize yourself performing them. There may be professional profiles that you do not even know about.
- Look for references who are developing that profession and talk to them to find out what their day to day is like.
- Choose a specialized university in the sector you want to dedicate yourself to, and make sure that the training is up-to-date and of high quality.
- take time to analyze the new degrees that exist on the market. Every year the universities update their catalog to respond to the existing demand.
- research the study plan, the teaching staff and, if you can, the methodology they apply.
- Keep in mind employability of the career.
- If you have margin, attend a course or workshop related to the discipline that interests you.
The importance of an international perspective
Either because of the type of degree chosen (there are some that are the result of the collaboration of institutions from various countries) or because you choose to participate in one of the university mobility programs (such as Erasmus), living together in an international environment during the years Higher education has a very beneficial effect on the personal and academic development of students: “It is always recommended, for two reasons: on the one hand, academically, because discovering how one studies and how one learns in other places is extremely valuable; students who move to another country see another way of orienting teaching and focusing professional training within that teaching, which is what is aimed at employability. And then there is the life experience, which I would dare to say is even more important: learning to live for yourself”, reflects Briones.
The best-known option for this mobility is, of course, the Erasmus+ programme, in which the 27 EU Member States and six other countries participate (Norway, Iceland, Turkey, Serbia, Liechtenstein and North Macedonia), as well as the bilateral agreements between the different universities, the Americampus scholarships (with Ibero-America) and even a program for university mobility within Spain (SICUE). But there is also the possibility of opting for a degree that is the result of cooperation between universities from different countries, such as the future degree in European Studies which will begin to be taught next year and which will allow its students to take several semesters not only in one of the four venues that award the degree (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, KU Leuven in Belgium, Alma Mater Studiourum Università di Bolonia, Italy, and Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland), but at any of the universities that are part of the One Europe alliance.
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