Report: 6 in 10 UK Graduates Overqualified for Their Jobs


New research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reveals that 6 in 10 university graduates in the UK are in jobs they’re overqualified for due to a shortage of high-skilled job vacancies in the country.

Britain has 58.8% of its graduates employed in low-skill jobs where their talents are not needed, a percentage only exceeded by crisis-affected Greece and Estonia. The research shows that one in 12 individuals working in call centers, coffee shops and bars are university graduates.

The report comes at a time when the UK’s academic institutions are opening their gates to welcome a record number of students this fall, after the British government has decided to no longer limit the number of students colleges can enroll. According to UCAS, for the academic year of 2015-2016, a total of 461,120 individuals have signed up for a university course – a 3% increase since last year.

The researchers warn in their study’s conclusion that the increase in high-skilled graduates is:

[S]ignificantly outstripping the growth of high-skilled jobs generated by the labor market,” Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD said. “The assumption that we will transition to a more productive, higher value higher skilled economy by just increasing the conveyor belt of graduates is proven to be flawed.”

Over-qualification has reached a saturation point, the Guardian explains. The report authors warn that almost half of graduates in low-skill jobs have difficulty repaying 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. This situation is unsustainable given that the government estimates that 45% of university graduates will not earn enough to repay their student loans.”

Graduates are taking jobs reserved for low-skilled individuals – jobs that have zero demand for graduate skills. The researchers point out:

“This trend has particularly affected occupations where apprenticeships have been historically important such as construction and manufacturing.”

The report reveals that UK has the second highest graduation ratio among OECD countries. While the UK’s graduation rate is 54%, Germany’s is 31%:

“Many graduates are simply replacing non-graduates in less demanding jobs or entering jobs where the demand for graduate skills is non-existent or falling,” says the report.

CIPD researchers urge the government to put in place a productivity plan to increase the number of high-skilled jobs. It also encourages the close collaboration with SMEs and major stakeholders to help organizations achieve this goal.

Sufficient access to career information and options for high school students after their A-level exams is also essential, the authors say, to help young people make informed career decisions.