iBusiness, 2011, 3, 332-338
doi:10.4236/ib.2011.34044 Published Online December 2011 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/ib)
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IB
Higher Technological Education Graduates’
Entrepreneurship: Results and Conclusions of a
Nation-Wide Research Study
Vassilis Kostoglou
Department of Informatics, Alexander TEI of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Email: vkostogl@it.teithe.gr
Received September 29th, 2011; revised November 3rd, 2011; accepted November 14th, 2011.
Higher education graduates constitute one of the most important parts of the young workforce, and their transition to
the labour market is among the main concerns of governments, policy makers and higher education institutes. It has
also been argued b y numerous scientists that there is a noticeable recognition o f the relationship between entrepreneurship
and economic growth, and moreover increasing self-employment rates tend to bring subsequent decreases of unemploy-
ment. This paper concentrates on the investigation of technological higher education graduates entrepreneurship
through the analysis of the results of a nation-wide research study carried out in Greece. The conducted survey was
addressed through a structured questionnaire to a large random, yet stratified sample of 708 self-employed graduates
of five consecutive years. Descriptive statistics was used for investigating the main variables sketching graduates
entrepreneurship, such as their demography and education, their professional status, the characteristics of their
enterprises, the satisfaction from self-employment; and multivariate analysis was applied for detecting the variables
affecting significantly the turn to entrepreneurship. The main findings are highlighted and future relevant work is
Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Higher Technological Education, Graduate, Greek Labor Market
1. Introduction
The promotion and support of entrepreneurship are nowa-
days among the main priorities of governments, em-
ployment policy makers, as well as of several establish-
ments of higher education for their students and gradu-
ates. The reason is a notable recognition for both the re-
lationship between entrepreneurship and economic growth,
and the dire need for linking closer higher education (HE)
and labour market [1]. It has also been argued that the
increase of self-employment tends to bring subsequent
decreases of unemployment rates. Furthermore, the re-
cent economic crisis and the increase of the public debt
in many countries resulted in a current and, even more,
forthcoming diminution of the public sector, a fact that
makes the turn to or at least the interest for entrepreneur-
rial activities more urgent and perhaps more challenging.
The Green Paper on entrepreneurship in Europe (2003)
confirmed that the development of entrepreneurship has
important benefits in both; economically, by contributing
to job creation and growth and being crucial to competi-
tiveness, and socially, by unlocking personal potential,
promoting societal interests and contributing to personal
fulfillment and achievement of social objectives [2].
As a consequence, several institutions of higher educa-
tion promote entrepreneurship through the addition of
courses in their study programmes, relevant seminars,
academic entrepreneurial research, as well as personal
advice services usually via their Career Services [3-5].
Regarding the entrepreneurial activation of HE graduates,
it has been argued that many HE institutions play a vital
role in supporting entrepreneurship by providing their
students with appropriate knowledge, skills and qualifi-
cations [6].
Despite the hard efforts to incorporate entrepreneurial
education into the study programmes, the proportion of
graduates actually turning to self-employment is rather
small or, in several cases, unknown. The main identified
reasons for the former phenomenon are the significant
changes of the employment conditions: flexible work,
part-time schedules, abolishment of several jobs and
Higher Technological Education Graduates’ Entrepreneurship: 333
Results and Conclusions of a Nation-Wide Research Study
emerging of new ones, short-term contracts, and growing
hetero-employment are nowadays among the new em-
ployment statuses, disorientating the graduates from en-
trepreneurial activities [7,8]. The inability to determine
exact self-employment rates can be explained by the fact
that very few European Universities track the transition
of their graduates to the labour market, and even less
their vocational career [9].
Nevertheless, HE graduates’ entrepreneurship has
been the theme of several published articles and studies,
some of them focusing on the identification of the factors
affecting this activation. Scholars of entrepreneurship in
a variety of disciplines agree that age, employment status,
education, income and perceptions are significant socio-
economic factors in a person’s decision to start business
[10-12]. Other identified significant reasons for turning
to entrepreneurship are the profit motivation and the in-
dependence by being one’s own boss [13], the origin
from a self-employed family [3], as well as autonomy,
self-realization and family tradition [6]. On the contrary,
the socioeconomic background and the entrepreneurial
education did not prove to be significant factors.
Regarding the relevant situation in Greece, the national
rate of entrepreneurs is significantly higher than the EU
corresponding average. However, more than half of the
businesses have been created due to necessity or due to
family tradition rather than to opportunity [14]. The en-
trepreneurship of HE graduates mounts up to 8.7% plac-
ing Greece in the 4th position in EU-25 and in the 15th
position worldwide [15]. The first nation-wide published
survey on the transition of University graduates to the
labour market examining a large sample of 13600 gradu-
ates was carried out by Karamesini (2008). Gender and
specialty of bachelor studies were identified as the most
important factors regarding the graduates’ self-employ-
ment rates (the identified average graduates’ entrepre-
neurship rate was 12.8%) [16].
Our findings of a recent institutional survey in Greece
revealed similar results, proving additionally that gender
(male) and postgraduate studies abroad play a significant
positive role towards entrepreneurial activities. They also
indicate that the majority of the self-employed graduates
are satisfied with their professional career, self-employed
women are less than double than self-employed men, and
some professions demonstrated significantly higher self-
employment than others. Also, graduates with lower de-
gree mark seem to me more involved in entrepreneur-
ship [17].
This paper focuses on the results of a national survey
carried out in Greece and addressed to higher techno-
logical education’s graduates of five consecutive years.
Next Section is devoted to the methodology adopted,
whereas Section 3 concentrates on the description and
analysis of principal results that cover the main aspects
of graduates’ entrepreneurship. Paper’s last Section high-
lights the main findings and suggests future relevant
2. Methodology
The nation-wide research study on which is based this
work used original first-born data collected during 2009
from all the participating Technological Educational In-
stitutions (TEI) of Greek higher education. The 11 local
surveys were conducted by the institutional Career Of-
fices which used the same research tool: a specially de-
signed structured questionnaire consisting of three parts
(demographic issues, educational issues, and employ-
ment issues), and including 43 closed, pre-coded ques-
tions. The survey method selected for the collection of
the empirical data was telephonic interviews carried out
by trained personnel (graduating students or Career Of-
fices’ employees). The surveys were addressed to ran-
domly selected and stratified (according to gender, insti-
tution and department of origin) samples of graduates. A
large number (5210) of filled and valid questionnaires
was collected, corresponding to graduates of 11 TEIs
having acquired their bachelor degrees in a five-year
time interval (1997-2001).
The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS)
was used for the statistical analyses. Descriptive, as well
as inferential bivariate and multivariate statistical tech-
niques were used for the analysis of graduates’ responses.
The Chi-square (X2) test was used for the examination of
the statistical dependence between two variables for all
possible combinations. Linear regression was applied to
identify the effects of the selected independent variables
on the dichotomous dependent variable ‘employed or self-
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Entrepreneurs’ Demography and Education
Out of the 5210 examined graduates, 708 reported that
they are currently self-employed (13.6%). The majority
of them (61.6%) are men, and 38.4% are women,
whereas their proportion in the examined total sample is
nearly reverse (42% of the graduates are men and 58%
are women), showing a significantly stronger tendency of
men to turn to entrepreneurship. Sixty per cent of the
self-employed graduates have graduated in their second-
dary education from a general lyceum, and just over half
(51%) of them were married at the time of the study.
Nevertheless, type of secondary education and marital
status do not affect significantly graduates’ entrepreneur-
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IB
Higher Technological Education Graduates’ Entrepreneurship:
Results and Conclusions of a Nation-Wide Research Study
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IB
rial attitude towards entrepreneurship. Eleven per cent of
the self-employed graduates have acquired a postgradu-
ate degree, which is slightly lower than the correspond-
ing overall percentage [18].
The main demography and education statistics of the
self-employed graduates per broader specialty (corre-
sponding to different faculty) are presented in Table 1.
3.2. Professional Statuses
Seven to eleven years after graduation, 88.5% of the
graduates reported that they are currently employed; nearly
75% of them are employees and 13.6% are self-em-
ployed. More than 11% of the graduates were unem-
ployed (7.4%) or inactive (4.1%) during the conduct of
the study. Self-employed men are more than double than
self-employed women (20% versus 9%) whereas their
unemployment rate is much lower (4% versus 10%).
These differences are statistically significant (X2 =
207.37 > 7.81). A worth to mention percentage of
women graduates (6%) remain inactive, mainly for fam-
ily reasons (Table 2).
The calculated unemployment rate of TEI graduates
(7.4%) is well below the corresponding national average,
as according to a recently published nation-wide labor
force survey, conducted by the Hellenic Statistical Au-
thority, the mean unemployment rate of graduates of
similar age groups was 9.15% [19].
Table 3 presents the type of employment of the work-
ing graduates. Women turn significantly more than men
to work as employees, and only very few of them (3%)
take the risk to establish their own business employing
other persons. Part-time employment does not appear to
be popular yet, as just 4% of the graduates prefer (or
have to turn to) this type of employment.
The type of employment was found to be statistically
dependent on graduates’ gender, institution of gradua-
tion, type of lyceum (secondary education) and degree
grade, and independent of graduates’ marital status,
year of graduation and acquisition of a postgraduate
Table 1. Self-employed graduate s’ statistics per broader specialty.
Broader specialty Number of self-employed% Men Married Duration of studies Postgraduate studies
Agriculture 61 8.7% 77% 48% 6.3 6%
Care 4 0.6% 25% 100% 5.3 0%
Engineering 237 33.7% 79% 47% 6.4 10%
Food & Nutrition 32 4.5% 41% 46% 6.0 16%
Graphics & Arts 48 6.8% 33% 47% 5.9 18%
Health 87 12.4% 43% 61% 4.7 22%
Health Technologies 18 2.6% 50% 72% 4.5 0%
ICT 35 5.0% 83% 50% 6.3 12%
Management & Economics 182 25.9% 51% 53% 5.9 9%
Total 704 100% 61% 51% 6.0 12%
Table 2. Employment status of TEI graduates.
Employment Status Number % Men Women
Employed 3902 74.9% 74% 76%
Self-employed 708 13.6% 20% 9%
Unemployed 387 7.4% 4% 10%
Inactive 213 4.1% 2% 6%
Total 5210 100%
Table 3. Type of employment for working gr aduate s.
Gender Full-time
employees Entrepreneurs Free lancers
Men 76% 3% 9% 12%
Women 85% 5% 3% 7%
Total 81% 4% 6% 9%
Higher Technological Education Graduates’ Entrepreneurship: 335
Results and Conclusions of a Nation-Wide Research Study
3.3. Characteristics of Graduates’ Enterprises
The majority of the self-employed graduates (60%) work
independently as free-lancers; the rest (40%) have their
own enterprise with employees. The residence in one of
the two large cities of Greece (Athens or Thessaloniki)
appears to play a decisive role towards increased entre-
preneurial activities, as over 20% of the corresponding
graduates (22% and 28% respectively) are self-employed.
Small towns do not favor self-employment; nearly in all
cases less than 10% of the relevant graduates turn to en-
trepreneurship (Table 4).
Over six out of ten (62%) self-employed graduates re-
ported that they established by themselves their busi-
nesses after graduation, whereas 30% stated that they
work in their family business, and the remaining 8% re-
ported other means of enterprise creation.
Regarding the graduates’ enterprises size, most of
them (78%) employ one to five persons, and 21% em-
ploy six to 50 employees. Only 1% of the enterprises
belonged to the examined graduates are larger.
Nearly half of the self-employed graduates (49%) re-
ported that they have been financed by their family for
establishing their enterprise, 13% from bank loans, 12%
from national or EU entrepreneurship funding pro-
grammes, and 26% from other, in most cases not speci-
fied, sources.
3.4. Satisfaction from the Decision for
The degree of graduates’ satisfaction from their decision
to turn to entrepreneurship is quite high, especially if
they own an enterprise with employees. In total, nearly
nine out of ten of them (86%) reported a quite high or
high satisfaction, and only 14% declared minimal or
small dissatisfaction. The detailed classification of the
corresponding responses in a four-point Likert scale is
presented in Table 5 [20].
The implementation of inferential statistical tests about
the existing differentiations in the degree of satisfaction
from self-employment of the graduates of the nine broader
specialties (faculties) of the higher technological educa-
tion did not reveal any statistically significant differences
(Table 6).
In comparison with the findings of a recent national
study in Greece, the satisfaction degree of the self-em-
ployed graduates is significantly higher compared to that
of the graduates who work as employees, as according to
this study only 63% of the employed graduates are satis-
fied with the content of their present position [18].
3.5 Variables Affecting Graduates’
The selection of the independent variables was based on
Table 4. Self-employed graduates per educational institute.
Numbers of self-employed graduates
ΤΕΙ Entrepreneurs Free-lancers Total %
Athens 45 110 155 22%
Crete 36 38 74 10%
Epirus 5 5 10 1%
Kavala 41 37 78 11%
Lamia 13 15 28 4%
Messolonghi 9 19 28 4%
Serres 22 43 65 9%
SPTE1 10 9 19 3%
Thessaloniki 74 122 196 28%
Western Macedonia27 28 55 8%
Total 282 426 708 100%
SPTE1: School of Pedagogical and Technological Education.
Table 5. Satisfaction degree from entrepre ne urship.
Minimal Small Quite highHigh
Entrepreneur 2% 7% 48% 42%
Self-employed 5% 12% 52% 31%
Total 4% 10% 50% 36%
Table 6. Satisfaction degree of self-employment per broader
Broader specialty Minimal Small Quite
high High
Agriculture 2% 18% 52% 28%
Care 0% 0% 50% 50%
Engineering 3% 11% 52% 34%
Food & Nutrition 6% 6% 38% 50%
Graphics & Arts 4% 15% 31% 50%
Health 2% 8% 54% 36%
Health Technologies 6% 11% 50% 33%
ICT 3% 9% 34% 54%
Management & Economics4% 7% 58% 31%
Total 3% 10% 51% 36%
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IB
Higher Technological Education Graduates’ Entrepreneurship:
Results and Conclusions of a Nation-Wide Research Study
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IB
the prerequisite of the reliable implementation of the
Chi-square (X2) test regarding the required minimum
corresponding sample size. The variables included in the
analysis are the following: gender, marital status, type of
secondary education, bachelor degree grade, postgradu-
ate studies, and satisfaction from self-employment. The
relationships among the variables have been calculated
using a 0.05 significance level. Vertebrate Table 7 in-
cludes the existing relationships among all the studied
variables for the 708 examined self-employed graduates.
The first of the three consecutive tables includes the X2
values, the second one reports the critical values, and the
third goes into the results about the existence or not of
statistically significant effects (D stands for dependent
variables, and I denoted independence). According to
these results the most important factor affecting the main
self-employment variables is graduate’s gender.
Additionally, regression analysis was implemented for
predicting whether a graduate becomes self-employed or
employee. As this variable is dichotomous, the Hosmer-
Lemeshow goodness-of-fit test was used. Values of more
than 0.05 indicated reliability of the model that was
tested [21]. The procedure of multiple regressions identi-
fied that the degree grade, the gender, the age and the
specialty of bachelor studies can explain statistically the
dependent variable ‘type of employment’ (Table 8).
According to the value of the evaluation criterion, the
outcomes are considered to be satisfactory. The odds
(probability) of graduates with a ‘good’ degree grade to
become self-employed are 2.56 times more than those
with an “honours” degree. There are no statistically sig-
nificant differences between graduates with a “very good”
or “honours” degree grade. The odds of graduate men to
become self-employed are 1.89 more than of graduate
women. A one year increase of graduate’s age results to
the increase of the probability of becoming self-em-
ployed increases by 5.4%. Regarding the specialty of
bachelor studies, the odds of Agriculture graduates to
Table 7. Relationships between all study variables (for all self-employed graduates).
X2 values Gender Marital status Type of lyceumDegree gradePostgraduate studies Employment Satisfaction
Gender 0 21.91 11.92 16.63 6.73 9.32 1.26
Marital status 21.91 0 12.24 0.52 2.57 4.13 2.33
Type of lyceum 11.92 12.24 0 27.12 11.20 0.98 8.14
Degree grade 16.63 0.52 27.12 0 6.71 0.68 7.22
Postgraduate studies
Studies 6.73 2.57 11.20 6.71 0 0.11 5.77
Employment 9.32 4.13 0.98 0.68 0.11 0 13.48
Satisfaction 1.26 2.33 8.14 7.22 5.77 13.48 0
Critical values Gender Marital status Type of lyceumDegree gradePostgraduate studies Employment Satisfaction
Gender 0 3.84 9.49 5.99 5.99 3.84 7.81
Marital status 3.84 0 9.49 5.99 5.99 3.84 7.81
Type of lyceum 9.49 9.49 0 15.51 15.51 9.49 21.03
Degree grade 5.99 5.99 15.51 0 9.49 5.99 12.59
Postgraduate studies
Studies 5.99 5.99 15.51 9.49 0 5.99 12.59
Employment 3.84 3.84 9.49 5.99 5.99 0 7.81
Satisfaction 7.81 7.81 21.03 12.59 12.59 7.81 0
Dependence (D) or
Independence (I)
Gender Marital status Type of lyceumDegree gradePostgraduate studies Employment Satisfaction
Gender D D D D D I
Marital status D D I I D I
Type of lyceum D D D I I I
Degree grade D I D I I I
Postgraduate studies
Studies D I I I I I
Employment D D I I I D
Satisfaction I I I I I D
Higher Technological Education Graduates’ Entrepreneurship: 337
Results and Conclusions of a Nation-Wide Research Study
Table 8. Results of logistic regression predicting type of occupation (employed versus self-employe d).
Variables Odds 95% C.I. p-value
Degree grade (Good) 2.558 1.212 - 5.399 0.014
Gender (Man) 1.886 1.53 - 2.326 <0.001
Age 1.054 1.019 - 1.081 0.002
Specialty: Agriculture 2.632 1.581 - 4.382 <0.001
Specialty: Graphics and Arts 4.477 2.304 - 8.700 <0.001
Specialty: Management & Economics 2.232 1.452 - 3.432 <0.001
Specialty: Health Technology 2.655 1.397 - 5.045 <0.003
Specialty: Health 2.347 1.464 - 3.763 <0.001
Specialty: Food & Nutrition 4.486 2.546 - 7.905 <0.001
Specialty: Engineering 3.774 2.479 - 5.447 <0.001
Model evaluation criterion Value
Hosmer-Lemeshow 0.223 > 0.05
Note: Comparison categories: Degree grade is Honours, Gender is Woman, Specialty is ICT.
become self-employed are 2.63 times more compared to
those of IT graduates. Similarly, the odds of Graphics
and Arts, Management and Economics, Health Technol-
ogy, Health, Food and Nutrition, and Engineering gradu-
ates to become self-employed are 4.48, 2.23, 2.66, 2.35,
4.49 and 3.77, respectively, times higher compared to the
odds of IT graduates respectively. Conclusively, men,
older graduates, and graduates of Food and Nutrition,
Graphics and Arts and Engineering have more chances
than the others to turn to entrepreneurship.
4. Conclusions
This research work dealt with the transition of higher
technological education graduates into the labour market
and focused on the analysis of the vocational rehabilita-
tion of the graduates which turned to entrepreneurship.
First-born nation-wide data was collected from 11 Tech-
nological Educational Institutions of Greece through
telephonic interviews addressed to a random and strati-
fied sample of 5210 graduates. Both descriptive and in-
ferential statistical techniques were used for the analy-
sis of all main parameters related to self-employment and
the identification of the variables affecting graduates’
attitude towards entrepreneurship.
The outcomes of this national study show that about
one out of seven higher education graduates (13.6%) turns
to entrepreneurship; men presenting double relevant inter-
est than women (20% versus 9%). Most self-employed
graduates (60%) work individually as free-lancers.
The majority of self-employed graduates (62%) estab-
lished their businesses by themselves; nevertheless the role
of the family in graduates’ entrepreneurial activities is
very strong: 30% of them work in their family enterprise,
and the establishment of nearly half of the existing busi-
ness has been financed by family funds. On the contrary,
bank loans and national or EU supporting programmes
are less popular financing means. Self-employed gradu-
ates are significantly more satisfied than those working
as employees. The residence place appears to play an
important role towards entrepreneurship, the large cities
offering significantly more opportunities.
Regarding the affecting factors, it has been found that
gender, bachelor degree grade, age and specialty are the
variables explaining satisfactorily graduates’ self-employ-
ment. Men graduates, graduates with lower degree marks,
and older graduates have significantly more probabilities
to turn to entrepreneurship. Graduates of Food and Nutri-
tion, Graphics and Arts, and Engineering faculties have
in turn more chances to turn to entrepreneurship after
Suggested future relevant work would be the repetition
of the survey with an extended questionnaire addressed
exclusively to self-employed graduates, and aiming to
include additional factors, such as deeper reasons for their
vocational choice and influences from sources such as
education and family. A comparative study among higher
education graduates of different countries with similar so-
cial and/or economic status would be also very interesting.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IB
Higher Technological Education Graduates’ Entrepreneurship:
Results and Conclusions of a Nation-Wide Research Study
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