Hungary Leads EU in Employment Rates for Young Graduates

In 2023, the European Union witnessed a significant milestone in the employment landscape for young graduates aged 20-34. With an overall employment rate of 83.5% among recent graduates from secondary and tertiary education, the year marked a record high, signaling positive strides in the transition from education to the labor market, according to Oeconomus Foundation‘s research.

Employment of Young Graduates in the EU

In 2023, the European Union saw a record high employment rate among young people aged 20-34 who had graduated within 1-3 years from secondary and tertiary education.

The employment rate stood at 83.5%, reflecting a positive trend in transitioning from education to the labor market.

Higher education levels significantly enhanced employment prospects, with those holding tertiary degrees (ISCED 2011 levels 5-8) enjoying a notably higher employment rate of 87.7%, compared to 78.1% for secondary education graduates. This trend underscores the importance of education in facilitating successful integration into the workforce.


ISCED, or the International Standard Classification of Education, is a global framework established by UNESCO to categorize and compare educational systems. It comprises 8 hierarchical levels based on program complexity and duration. Starting from early childhood education (Level 0) for children under 3, it progresses through primary (Level 1), lower secondary (Level 2), and upper secondary education (Level 3), preparing students for higher education or vocational training. Post-secondary non-tertiary education (Level 4) offers vocational training, while tertiary education can be short cycle that prepares students to exit straight to the job market with practical skills (Level 5). Bachelor’s degree (Level 6), master’s (Level 7), and doctoral degrees (Level 8), providing advanced academic qualifications.

Regional Variations and Challenges

Significant regional disparities exist within the EU regarding employment rates for recent graduates. Countries like Malta, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria boasted high employment rates, exceeding 90% in some cases. Conversely, southern and eastern Member States, including Greece, Romania, Croatia, and Spain, reported lower rates, highlighting varied economic conditions and labor market dynamics across the EU. Hungary emerged as a standout performer with the fourth highest employment rate in the EU at 94.7%, showcasing robust employment opportunities for young graduates within the country.

Gender Disparities and Trends

Gender disparities persist in the EU labor market despite overall progress. In 2023, the employment rate for male graduates was 85%, slightly higher than the 82% for female graduates across all levels of education (ISCED levels 3-8). However, the gender employment gap has narrowed over the years, from a 5-percentage point difference in 2013 to 3 percentage points in 2023. Variations across Member States were notable, with some countries showing significant gaps favoring men (e.g., Czech Republic), while others exhibited higher employment rates for women (e.g., Bulgaria). Hungary mirrored the EU trend, narrowing its gender employment gap to 2.8 percentage points by 2023.


The employment dynamics of young graduates in the EU reveal both promising advancements and persistent challenges.

While higher education continues to bolster employment prospects, regional disparities and gender gaps underscore the need for targeted policies and initiatives to ensure equitable opportunities across Member States.

Hungary’s exemplary performance highlights the potential for effective strategies to enhance labor market integration, pointing towards a future where education and inclusive economic policies play pivotal roles in shaping employment outcomes for Europe’s youth.

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Via Oeconomus; Featured Image: Pexels

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