The purpose of this article is to explore to what extent there are variations in the development of graduates once in employment; to what extent these variations can be explained by differences in the higher education systems; and what the current moves towards greater harmonisation between these systems might mean for graduates' continuing professional development in employment.
Data were collected from the graduating cohort of 1999/2000 across 11 European countries, five years after graduation. The views of higher education providers and employers on graduates in the knowledge society were investigated in a smaller sub‐set of countries.
There are differences in the incidence and length of UK graduates' initial training in employment compared to all graduates which can be explained, in part, by the traditionally looser “fit” between higher education and employment in the UK (compared to many continental European countries). Five years after graduation, UK graduates enjoy similar levels of work‐related training as their European counterparts, although there are quite large differences between employment sectors.
This article looks into what extent harmonisation of higher education programmes (arising from the Bologna process) will affect the relationship between higher education and employment, and in particular the role played by higher education and by employers in graduates' initial professional formation and continuing development; it will be of interest to those in that field.
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