Graduates overqualified for the work they do

More than one in every four Australian graduates are overqualified for the jobs they take on after completing their degrees.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA), Curtin University and Britain’s Swansea University found that the field of study chosen was a key factor in the education-job mismatch, although this was greater for graduates from the broader fields of study.

These included the natural and physical sciences, human studies, society and culture, and the creative arts. That is, the fields where most students are enrolled.

But the likelihood of an education-job mismatch for graduates from occupation-specific fields such as education, allied health and nursing was much lower than for their peers in the broader fields.

“Overqualification occurs when an individual is qualified at a level above what the job requires and this has been associated with adverse labour market consequences,” said Dr Ian Li, an economist at UWA’s school of population and global health.

The research, published in the journal Economic Record, entitled “Vertical, horizontal and residual skills mismatch in the Australian graduate labour market”, by Ian W Li, Mark Harris and Peter J Sloane and dated 13 June 2018, identifies the extent and earnings consequence of overqualified graduates in Australia.

The national study also investigated the ‘horizontal mismatch’ that occurs when graduates work in jobs that are incompatible with their degrees. The findings show that this was a key influencer of the mismatch.

Li said more consideration should be given to how the supply of graduates could be better matched to demand and the jobs currently available.

“Given the dynamic nature of the labour market today, we also need to think about how we educate graduates and whether their education enables them to be versatile and adaptable to a changing world,” Li said.

“Our study shows that any form of mismatch is associated with an earnings disadvantage – graduates who are mismatched in more than one form could earn substantially less.”

Mismatched graduates were also more likely to be in temporary work and be working part-time, he said.

“Given that the majority of those in our study sample were young graduates, these outcomes are poor.”

But Li said while the proportion of mismatched graduates decreased over the longer term, the number still remained substantial.

“These findings suggest that it is highly important for students to consider the probability of securing a job in their chosen field when they are selecting their university course before they enrol in tertiary education,” he said.


Makes sense as there are too many people and not enough jobs.

Christopher MacHurambe on the University World News Facebook page