Wednesday, 20 November 2013

"Half of graduates are working in jobs which do not need a degree"

Says the Daily Mail's headline, and the first bullet point it this:

* 38% of over-21s are now graduates, up from 17% just two decades ago

Hardly surprising is it?

Assuming that there is a clear definition of "graduate job" and society hasn't changed that much since, twenty years ago 17% of people were graduates and there were enough graduate jobs for all of them.

We have doubled the number of graduates overall without increasing the number of graduate jobs, so clearly half of graduates will end up working in non-graduate jobs. It does not really matter whether they do "hard" degrees (medicine, engineering) required to be able to do the sort of jobs which will always require a degree or "Mickey Mouse" degrees, the number of jobs in (medicine, engineering) does not change much.

The figures aren't quite as stark as this - rather unsurprisingly, the longer ago you graduated, the less likely you are to still be in a non-graduate job - but that's the general trend.


Woodsy42 said...

The alternative interpretation could be that half of all modern graduates have irrelevent or meaningless degrees compared to the past.

Bayard said...

W42, there were plenty of academic flags of convenience in the past, too, for those who wanted to enjoy university life without actually doing any work.

AndrewWS said...

I note that they refer to "over-21s" but give no upper age limit.

This is not new. Graduates always have tended to start out in jobs for which no degree is actually required; in some cases, market forces or employer snobbery mean that most of the people in a given place doing the job are graduates, but that is irrelevant.

The real question is what sort of job those graduates will be doing ten or twenty years later.

Mark Wadsworth said...

W42, you're saying the same as what I said (I think). We have the same number studying medicine or engineering and the same number of medical and engineering jobs.

B, true.

AWS: "in some cases, market forces or employer snobbery mean that most of the people in a given place doing the job are graduates, but that is irrelevant."

Yes that is very true, and this hurdle is being constantly raised so more and more employers demand degrees for non-graduate jobs.

To sum up W42 and AWS comments, it's basically an arms race. You don't go to uni to get a "graduate job" any more - you go to uni to improve your chances of getting a non-graduate job.

The Stigler said...


We actually have less Comp Sci graduates than a decade ago.

And yes, grade inflation - jobs where employers used to grab A level people, they're now grabbing low degree people.

That said, if you're smart and hard-working can you reach the same point by working in the company for 3 years? Often, yes.

Budvar said...

But much of the degree subjects are for what I would term "Wanker degrees".

Subjects such as "Social/womens/political/media studies", and the one my niece is taking, "Stadium management", when she graduates, she'll be promoting Glastonbury and the like, or so she thinks.

With a bill for about £40k to pay back in student loans, for a piece of paper that qualifies you to do basically fuck all.

Graeme said...

a generation ago, to be a nurse or primary school teacher, you needed to be a nice, friendly, diligent person. Now you need a degree. The concept of a degree has changed. It is no longer a badge of learning: it has morphed into the benchmark of employability.