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21 August 2015

Majority of UK graduates are overqualified for their job, finds CIPD

Employers now demand a degree for traditionally non-graduate level roles

More than half (58.8 per cent) of graduates in the UK hold a non-graduate job, research from the CIPD has revealed.

The report, Over-qualification and skills mismatch in the graduate labour market, stated that the number of people graduating from university now vastly outweighs the amount of high-skilled jobs.

This mismatch has resulted in some employers requiring a degree for positions which are traditionally non-graduate roles. And the research showed that the practice is particularly prevalent in industries which historically relied on apprenticeships, such as construction and manufacturing.

While a shortage of suitably-skilled jobs is problematic for many countries, the report concluded that the UK is particularly badly affected. For example, 10 per cent or less of graduates in Germany, the Netherlands and Slovenia are in non-graduate roles.

This international imbalance is partly due to the UK’s relatively high graduation rate and lower levels of vocational training.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said: “The assumption that we will transition to a more productive, higher value, higher skilled economy just by increasing the conveyor belt of graduates is proven to be flawed. 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.”

The CIPD has also published a guide for parents to highlight the different non-university options available for their children. The report and guide have been released today to coincide with GCSE results that come out tomorrow (Thursday 20th August).

“Efforts need to be redoubled to ensure young people, making choices after receiving their GCSE and A-Level results, can access good quality careers information, advice and guidance so they can make better informed decisions,” said Cheese. “Our report highlights why young people should think carefully about opting for university when, for example, going into an apprenticeship at 16 or 18 could be a much better choice.”

This isn’t the first time over-skilled workers have been highlighted as a problem. In 2014, a CIPD report revealed that almost a third (30 per cent) of people feel overqualified for their role and more than a fifth (22 per cent) of positions require no or only a primary school education.

Also in 2014, the Institute for Public Policy Research reported that one in five workers in low-skilled jobs hold a university degree. The think tank also estimated that two-thirds of the jobs created by 2022 would not require a degree to perform.

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