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The Education Exchanges Support Foundation (SMPF), ACA’s Lithuanian member organisation, has recently carried out a survey to measure the views of labour market representatives within the country regarding the quality of the Lithuanian higher education system, the employability of Lithuanian graduates and the impact of the Bologna Process on these two interlinked components. Representatives of business companies, professional associations in various sectors and trade unions took part in the survey.
The research shows mixed results, with often contradictory views on the part of industry. The majority of respondents do not see a shortage of higher education graduates within the country; however, only one in three employees confirms having a need for highly qualified employees with a certain higher education background. What most employers seem to value more is prior work experience, which is perceived as a more significant factor in employee performance than education. Lithuanian employers seem to mistrust qualifications obtained abroad—the majority of respondents state that they value a Lithuanian degree over a foreign one and prefer work experience in a foreign country over a higher education qualification obtained abroad. The scepticism of employers towards education abroad seems to be generated by the belief that it leads to brain drain from the country, a phenomenon which industry would naturally want to prevent or limit.
Regarding the impact of the Bologna Process, a very small share of respondents sees a positive effect on the employability of graduates and on business development. The majority believes that higher education reforms are implemented without taking into account business needs. Nevertheless, there seems to be an information deficit in this respect, as only one in ten respondents seemed well informed about the Bologna Process.