An investigation into the role of human capital competences and their pay-off

J.A.M. Heijke*, C.M. Meng, G.W.M. Ramaekers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Web of Science)


In this paper, the role of three different types of competences in the labour market for higher education graduates is investigated. The article distinguishes discipline-specific competences, general academic competences and management competences, the first being an example of competences acquired at school, which are of direct use in the labour market, the second being a type of competences also acquired in school, but which fulfil an indirect role by facilitating the acquisition of new competences after graduation from school, and the third, management competences, being an example of competences acquired mainly in a working context and, like discipline-specific competences, being of direct use in that context. This paper shows that, first, the level of discipline-specific competences obtained in higher education offers a comparative advantage for graduates working inside the own discipline-specific domain, and therefore has a pay-off for those graduates who are able to find a job in this domain; second, the management competences are valued in the labour market but seem to be more likely acquired in a working context than in higher education, and third, the general academic competences acquired in higher education do not pay off directly, but have a significant supportive role when learning competences that have a direct pay-off in the labour market, like management competences, but are more likely acquired outside education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)750-773
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Manpower
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003

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