Two central recommendations of the 2007-2009 working group on employability were to raise awareness of the Bologna Process and the value of a first cycle degree and to promote greater dialogue between higher education institutions and employers. In both cases governments have an important role to play but mainly at national level.
The Bologna Context
Within the Bologna Process, employability is understood as "the ability to gain initial meaningful employment, or to become self-employed, to maintain employment, and to be able to move around within the labour market". In this context, the role of higher education is "to equip students with the knowledge, skills and competences that they need in the workplace and that employers require; and to ensure that people have more opportunities to maintain or renew those skills and attributes throughout their working lives".
Employability has been one of the central goals of the Bologna Process from the very beginning, which resulted from a concern about graduate unemployment. It was also related to the emergence of a European labour market (at least within the European Union). The London Communiqué in 2007 asked the BFUG to consider how to improve employability in relation to the different cycles and in the context of lifelong learning. This was done by the Employability Working Group (Working Group on Employability, 2009). Taking up some of the recommendations of the working group report, the Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve Communiqué in 2009 emphasised the need for, "close cooperation between governments, higher education institutions, social partners and students" in "maintaining and renewing a skilled workforce". The Communiqué highlighted that higher education institutions should be more responsive to employers' needs, and also emphasised the importance of work placements and on-the-job training. The objective of enhancing employability was also underlined by the Budapest-Vienna Declaration.
Effective outcomes and employability
The 5th Chapter of the Bologna Process Implementation Report 2012 is dedicated to effective outcomes and employability.
The structure of this chapter is the following. First, it looks at the main output of the higher education system: the number of tertiary education graduates. In doing so, the chapter compares tertiary education attainment levels across the EHEA. In addition, it presents information on higher education completion as well as on national policies for improving the current situation. The chapter then turns to data relevant for assessing the labour market prospects of graduates. Keeping in mind the conceptual limitations of measuring employability, the chapter first looks at unemployment ratios of higher education graduates in comparison to those with lower levels of education. Furthermore, the chapter examines the annual gross income of employees by education attainment in order to evaluate the private returns of obtaining a higher education qualification. Finally, the chapter discusses qualification mismatches.
Working Group on Reporting on the Implementation of the Bologna Process 2009-2012
The Working Group defined indicators and prepared an integrated report on the progress of the implementation of the Bologna Process.