The UK has witnessed one of the highest rates of higher education expansion across Europe over recent decades, but has not seen an increase in high-skill jobs matching that expansion – indeed, a number of countries with a slower expansion of higher education sector have experienced a larger increase in high-skill jobs.
In this report, we examine the available evidence on the extent to which graduates are over-qualified and over-skilled for the current labour market, and the ways in which the labour market may have adapted in response to the growing supply of degreeholders. In section 3, we give an overview of some existing studies on the utilisation of graduates in European labour markets, as well as presenting some of our own data from recent European surveys. We argue that a lot of research in this area conflates two issues – whether a degree is necessary to get a job, and whether it is needed to do the job. Our interest is in the latter, which captures the nature of the work graduates perform. However, many of the measures used by prominent organisations may simply be picking up changes in the recruitment process. Academic research in the UK on graduate skill utilisation has typically taken two approaches, both of which have problems. We argue that quantitative studies typically focus on outcomes like wage premia or self-reported skill utilisation measures as the relative share of graduate employment changes, but are not able to show whether anything has changed about jobs at the same time. On the other hand, case studies of particular occupations do produce evidence of changes in the nature of the jobs, but are not generalisable.
In section 4, we discuss a new approach. Our analysis shows that while there are examples of occupations where jobs have been upgraded as graduates have moved into them in increasing numbers, many other occupations have simply experienced either job competition, where those with degrees simply replace non-graduates in less demanding jobs, or enter jobs where the demand for graduate skills is non-existent or falling. We show that occupations where apprenticeships have been historically important have been particularly affected.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Over-qualification and skills mismatch in the graduate labour market – Policy Reports – CIPD.