Graduation is not the end, it is just the beginning: Change in perceived employability in the transition associated with graduation

Ilke Grosemans*, Nele De Cuyper, Anneleen Forrier, Sarah Vansteenkiste

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Graduate employability has attracted considerable attention, unsurprisingly so: The transition associated with graduation presents a series of strong events, that is likely to produce change in employability. We focus on perceived employability (i.e., the individual's appraisal of available employment opportunities). Change in perceived employability in the transition after graduation is sometimes hinted at, yet seldom tested: Positive change is expected, based on the idea that employability-enhancement in university broadens employment opportunities. While this may be true on average, there could be heterogeneity. In response, we tested heterogeneous change in perceived employability among university graduates using a longitudinal three-wave design and among three cohorts of graduates (N2016 = 581; N2017 = 547; N2020 = 339). The pattern of results is as follows. First, perceived employability on average increased after graduation, and in the same way in the three cohorts. Second, change is heterogeneous along three change profiles: one profile perceives themselves as highly employable at the start and becomes slightly more employable (49.6 %), a second profile starts at medium levels and also becomes more employable (38.1 %), and a third profile starts at lower levels and remains stable (12.3 %), with a widening gap with the other profiles over time. Third, profiles were similar across cohorts: Our findings are not sample-specific and thus robust. Fourth, the profiles are connected to labor market outcomes (employment status, job satisfaction, education-job fit). These findings are novel to the employability field in terms of unravelling heterogeneous dynamics, and its replication attests to the robustness of the findings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103915
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Graduates
  • Latent class growth analyses
  • Perceived employability
  • School-to-work transition


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