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This paper explores quality perception and expectations in higher education considering 30 competences grouped into three standard sets: instrumental, interpersonal, and professional. Based on the SERVQUAL research model, the authors propose a four-gaps model to compare employers" and graduates" perceptions of the competences required by the labour market and the level of skills achieved after graduation, and examines the existence of discrepancies between them. Our model analyses the uneasy feeling perceived in the labour market due to the existing mismatch between the skills developed by students at university and those that the labour market demands using a higher learning institution. Data were collected by means of a survey conducted among recent graduates in economics, and from managers in companies where those graduates were working. Our findings reveal that graduates are not being taught the specific knowledge that would apparently be useful for successful integration into the labour market on leaving university (gap A). More importantly, graduates seem to lack self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities and knowledge (gap B). In our opinion, this research offers an important contribution to the understanding of skill gaps and contributes to empirical knowledge by identifying the aspects where the main discrepancies lie.
perceptions; gap analysis; competences; recent graduates; recruitment requirements; servqual model; anova test