Startpage for Swedish National Agency for Higher Education

Please note! The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education was closed down on 31 December 2012. Instead two new agencies have been established: the Swedish Council for Higher Education and the Swedish Higher Education Authority. This website will continue to operate as the new agencies will have links to information it contains.  

2007:07 R

University qualifications and the labour market

A basis for planning academic year 2007/08

The task of universities and colleges is to match educational programmes to student interest and the needs of the labour market. Student interest is easily determined as expressed by the number of applications. Labour market needs are more difficult to gauge. This is especially so as one is not concerned with the current situation but how things will be a number of years in the future when the students now starting their courses have graduated and are looking for work. But despite the difficulties, there are certain already known circumstances which should affect decisions regarding increasing and reduction of the number of new students. One such is the number of upcoming retirements. This varies from profession to profession and thus results in a greater or smaller need for replacements. Certain trend-related structural changes also affect future workforce needs in different sectors. These include population developments and its age distribution, changes in technology and other industrial changes.

The most important thing to bear in mind is that it is not today´s labour market which is to determine the number of entries into degree programmes, but tomorrow´s. Experience shows that discussions regarding student numbers or - from a student viewpoint - which subjects are best to choose, are all too often dominated by the prevailing labour market situation. This is despite the fact that those just starting a degree do not usually graduate until four, five or even more years later. And the time scale used should, of course, actually be much longer than this as the new graduates will be active on the labour market for a further 30 or 40 years.

The aim of this report is to focus upon the balance point on the labour market for various higher education groups at the point in time when those starting their degrees during academic year 2007/08 arrive on the labour market. What will the labour market look like for different groups of graduates in the years following 2010, when those starting their degrees come onto the labour market? This is the question this report will look at for over thirty groups of graduates included in the calculations.

This report, which is the second produced by Högskoleverket with this kind of guideline information, was commissioned by the government. It aims to provide some easy-to-follow reference points for educational planners at universities and colleges, study counsellors at high schools and - of course - directly or indirectly, for future students.

Risk of shortages of qualified carers, some teachers and engineers

For about half the graduate groups, the calculations indicate a balance or quite good balance between labour market demand and the number of graduates when those now starting their degrees complete them. For the others, there is a manifest risk of graduate shortages or surpluses if no changes are made to the number of entries. Vocational studies teachers, leisure-time pedagogues, pre-school teachers, dentists, biomedical analysts and doctors are among the groups for which the calculations clearly indicate future shortages of new graduates. The training of vocational studies teachers, leisure-time pedagogues, pre-school teachers, dentists, biomedical analysts and doctors therefore needs to be increased in order to avoid shortages in these categories on the future labour market.

Compulsory school teachers for later years in compulsory schools and upper secondary school teachers, graduates with arts degrees, journalists and scientists are groups for which there is a major risk of surpluses with the current numbers being trained. These are thus groups which currently have too many places and new students.

To describe results in broader terms, it may be said above all that more places in care training are needed. A certain increase is needed in the technology sector, while there is a risk of surpluses in some social sciences and liberal arts qualifications.

In schools, there are fairly large imbalances. Many of these imbalances could be dealt with, however, by a redistribution of teacher-training places among the various teacher categories. What is also needed, though, is for professions with shortages to be made more attractive so that more students want to train, for example, as pre-school teachers.

The following simplified summary table, see also the next section, shows the balance situation on the labour market when those starting their studies in academic year 2007/08 have completed their studies and start to arrive on the labour market, on condition that new student numbers remain unchanged. This means, therefore, that the groups showing a ‘shortage´ need more new students and the groups showing a ‘surplus´ need a reduction in the number of places.


Leisure-time pedagogues Shortage
Pre-school teachers Shortage
Prescriptionists Shortage
Biomedical analysts Shortage
Dentists Shortage
Doctors Shortage
Vocational studies teachers Shortage
Occupational therapists Shortage
Special needs teachers and pedagogues Shortage
Social scientists Shortage
Graduate engineers Shortage
Psychologists and psychotherapists Shortage
Physical therapists Some shortage
Nurses Some shortage
Engineers with Master’s degrees Some shortage
Law graduates Some shortage
Theologians Some shortage
Programmers and systems analysts Balance
Graduate social workers Balance
Veterinary surgeons Balance
Compulsory school teachers, early years Balance
Liberal arts graduates Some surplus
Graduates in agriculture and horticulture Some surplus
Economists Some surplus
Pharmacists Surplus
Architects Surplus
Librarians Surplus
Scientists Surplus
Journalists Surplus
Graduates in fine arts Surplus
Compulsory school teachers, later years and upper secondary school teachers Surplus

Calculated balance situation when those starting studies in academic year 2007/08 come onto the labour market if new student numbers remain unchanged.
‘Balance´ means that the difference between recruitment needs and graduates is less than 10 percent. ‘Some shortage´ or ‘Some surplus´ means that the difference is between 10 and 30 percent. ‘Shortage´ or ‘Surplus´ means that the difference between the calculated recruitment needs and the number of graduates is greater than 30 percent.
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