The so-called ‘skills shortage’ is a well-versed complaint of companies, especially in technical fields like science, engineering and IT. But the problem isn’t necessarily just that Brits aren’t qualified enough. Graduates are actually increasingly over-qualified for jobs that could be done by people who haven’t been to university.
Over-qualification has reached ‘saturation point’, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which found 58.8% of grads were in ‘non-graduate’ jobs.
That proportion was only outstripped by Greece and Estonia. In contrast, in Germany, the Netherlands, Slovernia and Switzerland, European countries with a strong history of vocational training and apprenticeships, 10% or less grads were in work that didn’t require degrees.
The CIPD also pointed out that in Germany, that bastion of European industry, only 31% of young people go to university. In the UK it’s 54% - only Iceland is higher.
One could argue that grads are more mature and so bring a more worldly, educated outlook to their work. But the study argues that the skills that come with a degree aren’t actually needed for many of the jobs UK grads are being hired for. Meanwhile, young people are shouldering an ‘unnecessary debt burden,’ while the government estimates 45% of grads won’t earn enough to repay their student loans.
‘Simply increasing the qualification level of individuals going into a job does not typically result in the skill required to do the job being enhanced - in many cases that skills premium, if it exists at all, is simply wasted,’ CIPD chief exec Peter Cheese said, in a pretty scathing indictment of the situation.