AbstractThe aim of the research was to assess the significance of higher education qualifications in the determination of the employment potential of mature students, having regard to other factors which may influence employment potential. The mature student was defined as being aged 25 and over on entry, attending a higher education establishment in pursuit of a qualification, within the parameters of the Department of Education and Science's definition of advanced further education.
The research was based on the assumption that adults, in re-assessing their career development, sought to increase their stock of human capital and portfolio of educational credentials via the pursuit of a higher education qualification, in order to move upwards in the occupational hierarchy and across the boundary between the secondary and primary labour markets, whilst at the same time reducing the likelihood, and duration, of unemployment occurring.
An initial survey of mature students indicated that 65% of respondents entered higher education for career purposes, with the percentage lower for females and declining with age. All students anticipated more problems than were actually experienced, whilst females anticipated more problems than males but actually experienced fewer. Furthermore, all students received greater benefits than they had anticipated and this was especially true of females.
A follow-up survey produced results that showed some 65% of all students achieved employment and nearly 17% continued their studies, with more males achieving employment and more females continuing their studies. Such results formed the basis of the construction of a statistical model which enabled an indicator of the employment potential of mature students, given various characteristics,to be produced. The results indicated that employment potential declined after the age of 40 was reached, was much higher with six years of relevant experience, was very dependent on mobility and was highest for diplomates amongst the qualification category. Finally, the model was developed to incorporate local labour market conditions and highlighted the different probabilities of employment between regions and the 'general' probability of mature students with higher education qualifications achieving employment within Great Britain.
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