Graduate overqualification has become one of the most talked about issues in the UK workforce since CIPD has come out with a new report. Their report suggests that there is an increasing number of graduates in the last 30 years or so but there aren’t enough jobs. Appropriate jobs are not created at a fast enough rate, leaving a major chunk of the graduates fighting for jobs that they are over-qualified for.
As we are in a period where multiple students leave (and join) universities, there is a need to rethink how best to allocate and utilise fresh talent.
Skills Supply vs Demand – Current Scenario
To ascertain what must be done, we must first analyse what is happening. Back in the day, there was a heavy focus on creating new talent. According to the CIPD report, this was mainly done with the expectation that highly skilled graduates will generate highly skilled jobs. However, in about the last 30 years, there has been a shift in the number of jobs available vs the number of highly skilled graduates.
While the CIPD report goes into detail about the employment rates between graduates and non-graduates, it’s essentially saying that graduates have had higher employment rates. Between 1992 and 2022, there has been an increase from 14% to 42% between nine occupation groups. So, what exactly is the issue?
The Problem of Overqualification
The first issue starts with the difference in how much graduate’s vs non-graduates are being paid.
A 2020 report by HESA showed that in the 1970s graduates were paid 17% more than non-graduates. However, in 1990, that number went down to 10%. This drop was even more for people with 2:2 degrees. HESA called this the drop in “graduate premium” which is the average increase in wages a graduate earns as opposed to a non-graduate.
This leads us to the second issue – overqualification. In a survey conducted by CIPD where over 6000 workers were surveyed, 36% of undergraduates felt they were overqualified for their jobs. Not only does their being overqualified affect their earnings, but also factors like job and life satisfaction. This was shown in comparison to well-matched graduates who were satisfied with their jobs and in life.
Moreover, about 25% of graduates, who felt overqualified, said they are more likely to quit. This was in comparison to the remaining 17% of graduates who didn’t feel the need to quit because they felt they were right for their role.
Changes HR Can Make
While the UK government has recognised the issue of overqualification and is planning to tackle it, there are a few steps HR can make in every business
- Offer More Guidance
One of the first things HR needs to do is offer more guidance on the roles they are hiring for. This means not just informing applicants of what the role is but also where it could lead to. It is especially helpful to do this if HR is aware that it may not be a highly skilled job now but can end up becoming one.
This is similar to what CIPD reported in 2021, where they said young people did not fully understand their career path after school/university. Keeping that in mind, many young graduates may get into jobs they do not fully understand. Providing ample knowledge of the role and opening lines of communication with HR while applicants apply for roles will help
- Offer Training
Instead of hiring new people, the CIPD report suggests re-distributing resources to provide appropriate training to current employees. It is important for HR to identify whether the employees currently working for the company need to be upskilled, rather than hiring someone who may be overqualified.
- Create Appropriate Roles
A key aspect of HR responsibility is hiring people who are appropriate for the role. One of the issues the UK workforce is facing is simply that overqualified people are being hired. It is the responsibility of the employer and the HR within that company to hire people who match the role advertised, rather than people who are overqualified. This will not only help bridge the gap between skill supply and demand but also ensure better job and life satisfaction for the employee.