First-job educational and skill match : an empirical investigation of political science graduates in Slovenia

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the education-job match of political science graduates from Slovenia, as well as from selected EU countries, in the context of other disciplines. In the frame of contested theoretical approaches, the implications of matching the knowledge that is acquired during education to the skills that are needed on the job are also examined.

Design/methodology/approach: Using the REFlex HEGESCO database, as well as other secondary data, the wider disciplinary and contextual environments are presented. Disciplinary and contextual mapping is followed by binary logistic regression of primary data collected from Slovene political science graduates. Based on the results, the authors determined the validity of certain theoretical premises of human capital, credentialist, and assignment approaches, specifically regarding education-job matching.

Findings: In terms of graduate education-job match, the results indicate that the relevance of the sector of employment relates to educational as well as skill match. The results also indicate that matched candidates utilize the skills acquired during the education process to a greater degree, which adds weight to the assignment theory’s presumption. The effect of formal credentials is relevant, because graduates with Bologna degrees, despite having attended programs with virtually identical curricula at the same institution, are significantly less matched when compared to non-Bologna graduates. Accordingly, the effect of the change to the structure of the system of higher education (HE), which is amplified by the period effect of the economic crisis, implies a serious change to graduates’ opportunity structure.

Practical implications:The study should motivate a re-examination of the teleological purpose of the study by professional associations in the state. It should also motivate the adjustment of the study programs to the new conditions graduates face and strengthen the educator-employer relationship to make the latter cognizant about the study programs and the skills of graduates. In addition, the study should provide grounds for a critical discussion about the implications of governmental austerity measures on the public sector.

Originality/value: The paper provides new insights into the early careers of political scientists and social scientists at large. It also offers early evidence on the effect of the Bologna’s HE reform and indications about the early career achievements in a crisis-struck post-communist country.