From Student to Employee
The research project ‘From Student to Employee´ took place from 2014-2018 and was funded by The Novo Nordisk Foundation.
The research project studied students’ transition from graduation to work life. The project goal was to unpack the processes and identify the barriers and difficulties that science and engineering university students experience in their transition to work life.
The project explored:
- How students are prepared for their transition into the first job.
- How the graduates cope with the transition from university to workplace, how they gain a sense of belonging at their workplace, and how the transition process evolves in relation to different job categories.
- What academic competences the new employees find they need in their first job, which competences do they find they lack, and which competences do they struggle to transform to align to the requirements of and culture of the workplace.
- Rasmus Enemark, The Danish Society of Engineers, IDA
- Mette Nielsen, Consultant, Confederation of Danish Industry
- Erik Bisgaard Madsen, Associate Dean Research, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen
- Carsten Aabo, Head of Division, Ministry of Higher Education and Science
- Jakob Ruggaard, Chairman, Danish Students Council
- Gitte Henchel, Senior Executive Adviser, Head of study and career guidance, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen
- Henrik Dalbøge, Chairman, The Employer Panel for Biomolecular Sciences and Technology, University of Copenhagen
- Maj Leth-Espensen, Novo Nordisk Foundation
Through a study of university students’ transition processes into their first job and their employability the aim of the project is to unpack the processes and identify the barriers and difficulties that students experience in this transition. More specifically the study aim to explore:
How are Danish university students’ academic identities and competences constructed and supported by their postgraduate studies, and how are they transferred into the first job?
A. How do the students’ at four selected university study programmes, within the disciplinary area of biology, chemistry and technology, prepare them for their transition into the first job?
B. How do the graduates, from the four selected study programmes, cope with the transition from university to workplace, and how do they negotiate their academic identities and orientations to gain a sense of belonging at their workplace? And how does the transition process evolve in relation to different job categories?
C. What academic competences do the new employees find they need in their first job, which do they find they lack, and which do they struggle to transform to align to the requirements of and culture of the workplace?
Set the scene for how employability is adapted and used in a Danish context, and feed into the discussions both within research but also to inform relevant stakeholders. In a UK-context employability is one of the parameters used to assess universities. As Denmark often turns to the UK for inspiration, the present project is an important stepping stone on the way.
- Qualify university students’ transition into their first job. By exploring the transition process for students at different study programmes, insights into various ways of supporting the students in this process may serve as inspiration for universities and employers as well.
- Support universities in their work in building up and expanding career counselling. Recently career counselling has been strengthened at many Danish universities with a range of different initiatives. This project aims to qualify this work by sharing research results, not only through frequent discussions and presentations, but also by publishing the results in Danish journals.
- Support university managers and educational planners in their work on with including a still more diversified student population. In studying students’ aspirations and transitions to the job market, the research project aims to find ways for universities to support various student-strategies.
- Finally the four selected study programmes will receive feedback on how they can support their students in the transition into their first job in general and in particular how they can reinforce the employability of their students.
The students undergo a transition from their university studies into their first job. This is distinct cultural contexts with different cultural norms which govern different viable ways of participating. Both the students´ academic identities and academic competences are challenged in the transition process, as they need to relate themselves to a new set of requirements and ways of doing. As such the students are required to transform their academic identity and competences into a professional identity and professional competences to become employable. How the students handle these challenge, and how they are supported by various study programmes and jobs, is the precise focus in this project.
To understand such transition and integration processes a socio-cultural framework will be applied. This is done by focusing on two particular points in the process of students’ moving from higher education and into their first job: Identities in transition and integration into first job. Theoretically this is done by combining two socio cultural theories; post structuralist transition theory and narrative psychology.
If you want further information about the project, then contact project leader Henriette Tolstrup Holmegaard.
The Novo Nordisk Foundation
Henriette Tolstrup Holmegaard, Associate Professor
Department of Science Education, University of Copenhagen