Too Many Over-Qualified Graduates in Non-Graduate Jobs

The number of graduates in the UK labour market has significantly exceeded the creation of high-skilled jobs and is leading to an over-qualification ‘saturation point’ according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The CIPD has called for an education funding review and a national debate about how to create more high-skilled jobs; as too many over-qualified graduates are entering non-graduate jobs, not realising investment in higher education and creating unnecessary debt burden for too many young people entering the labour market.

The consequences of this include employers using degrees as an essential requirement for traditionally non-graduate roles, despite no change in the skills required for these jobs. This has led to too many graduates simply replacing non-graduates in less demanding jobs, or entering jobs where the demand for graduate skills is non-existent or falling. The CIPD has stated that this trend has particularly affected occupations where apprenticeships have been historically important, such as construction or manufacturing.

The report also highlights a number of international comparisons suggesting over-qualification is a particular problem in the UK:

  • The UK has the second highest graduation rate in the OECD (54%) with only Iceland having a greater proportion. German has a graduation rate of just 31%.
  • The growth of graduates significantly outstripping the growth of high-skilled jobs generated by the labour market is prevalent among most OECD countries, but is particularly pronounced in the UK.
  • The UK has 58.8% of graduates in non-graduate jobs, a percentage only exceeded by Greece and Estonia. In contrast, countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Slovenia, which have a history of strong vocational training, have 10% or less of graduates in non-graduate jobs
  • The UK also has one of the highest levels of self-reported over-qualification among graduates in Europe.


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