All That Glitters Is Not Gold. Inequality of Labour Market Outcomes Among Polish STEM Graduates.

Friday, 20 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Tomasz ZAJAC, Uniwersytet Warszawski, Poland
The labour market outcomes of education have received much attention from scholars as well as policy makers and the media. It is a well-established fact that education is strongly related to earnings and that university graduates fare better than their less educated counterparts (Card, 1999; Hout, 2012; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). However, educational expansion observed in developed countries makes the horizontal dimension in higher education more important in explaining social stratification (Ballarino & Bratti, 2009). The field of study is one of the key characteristics differentiating higher education graduates and their careers. There is ample evidence of the importance of the academic discipline for graduates’ labour market outcomes coming from many countries, including: USA (Kim, Tamborini, & Sakamoto, 2015), Italy (Ballarino & Bratti, 2009), UK (Blackaby, Murphy, & O’Leary, 1999), Germany (Görlitz & Grave, 2012), as well as Netherlands, Norway, and Australia (van de Werfhorst, 2004).

Poland is one of the countries which experienced rapid expansion of higher education in recent decades. It was accompanied by the rise in unemployment rate among tertiary education graduates. These developments sparked a vivid debate on the quality of higher education and eventually led to the establishment of the Polish Graduate Tracking System (ELA) using administrative data to monitor the labour market performance of the entire population of graduates.

In the presentation, we discuss the differences in the labour market outcomes of graduates of various disciplines. We focus particularly on the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics which are presumed to lead to the best labour market positions. We demonstrate that, contrary to popular opinion, only some of the STEM disciplines give their graduates an edge on the labour market while the rest struggle to achieve results comparable with those of graduates of Humanities and Social Sciences.