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The Flexible Professional in the Knowledge Society: New Challenges for Higher Education

Allen, J. & van der Velden, R. (Eds.). The Flexible Professional in the Knowledge Society: New Challenges for Higher Education. Higher Education Dynamics, Vol. 35. Springer, Dordrecht, 2011. ISBN: 978-94-007-1352-9. Pages: 259.

This latest volume of the Higher Education Dynamics series presents an examination of the REFLEX project. The REFLEX survey, which looks at graduates' transition from higher education to the world of work, has been carried out in 16 countries:  Austria, Belgium-Flanders, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK (although only surveys from 13 of these countries were used in the analysis). Graduate surveys were administered to roughly 70 000 respondents who graduated from ISCED 5A programmes in the 2009/10 academic year from the aforementioned countries.

The authors highlight three developments currently facing higher education graduates, which require new and stronger competences:

  • ongoing demand for increased education and training,
  • volatility of the labour market and
  • internationalisation and globalisation.

Moreover, survey findings among the 13 countries identified five key, increasingly universal demands from the world of work:

  • professional expertise,
  • functional flexibility,
  • innovation and knowledge management,
  • mobilisation of human resources and
  • foreign language skills.

The book offers conclusions and specific policy recommendations to individual stakeholders, such as the European Commission, higher education institutions, national governments, students and employers.