Credit: Sakeeb Sabakka

Most graduates are over-qualified for their jobs

Despite companies complaining of skills shortages, there's actually a 'skills mismatch', says the CIPD.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 09 Sep 2015

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.

Credit: CIPD

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.

Labour’s push to get young people into uni seems to be coming back to bite us, then. When the UK is suffering a shortage of both brickies and techies, it’s no wonder productivity is so low.

Read more: What Britain's bosses got in their exams

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Is it okay to spy on my staff if I think they're slacking ...

Everything you wanted to know about employee surveillance but were afraid to ask.

The psychology of remote working

In depth: The lockdown has proven that we can make working from home work, but...

A simple cure for impostor syndrome

Opinion: It's time to stop hero-worshipping and start figuring out what greatness looks like to...

I was hired to fix Uber’s toxic culture - and I did. Here’s ...

Harvard’s Frances Frei reveals how you know when your values have gone rotten, and what...

Social responsibility may no longer be a choice

Editorial: Having securitised businesses’ loans and paid their wage bills, it’s not inconceivable the government...

What went wrong at Wirecard

And how to stop it happening to you.