Over half of over-qualified UK graduates are working in a job 'that does not require a degree', new report finds

Chief executive says young people should think carefully about opting for university when going into an apprenticeship could be a better choice

Aftab Ali
Wednesday 19 August 2015 09:11 BST

Too many over-qualified graduates in the UK are working in jobs that do not require a degree, to the point where it’s reaching saturation point, a new report has found.

Commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the report states how the increasing number of graduates in the labour market has significantly outstripped the creation of high-skilled jobs –which is leading to negative consequences.

Comparing the situation with other countries, the CIPD says over-qualified graduates are a particular problem for the UK.

With one of the highest levels of self-reported over-qualification among graduates in Europe – behind Estonia and Greece – the UK has 58.8 per cent of graduates in non-graduate jobs. Germany’s figure, on the other hand, is at ten per cent.

Overall, too many young people are being saddled with the unnecessary burden of debt as they enter work, warns the report, as a severe shortage of high-skilled jobs hinders their career ambitions.

Chief executive of the CIPD, Peter Cheese, described how the situation is unsustainable, given the Government estimates 45 per cent of university graduates will not earn enough to repay their student loans.

Highlighting the problem as a national one, he said: “It’s crucial we, as a nation, take stock now of whether our higher education system is delivering desired returns for graduates, for organisations, and society.”

Mr Cheese also emphasised the importance of encouraging national debate on how to go about creating more high-skilled jobs.

Appealing to those students contemplating going to university after receiving their exam results this month, Mr Cheese said efforts need to be redoubled to ensure young people can access quality careers information, advice, and guidance in order to help them make better-informed decisions.

He added: “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.”

The CIPD is now calling on the Conservatives to conduct a large-scale review into how the UK can ensure crucial public investment achieves the best value for all learners, and also recommends the Government ensures its productivity plan includes a specific focus on creating more high-skilled jobs.

Employers need to review their recruitment practices to ensure they are not using a degree as a screening process when recruiting for jobs, and they must also education work with schools and colleges to build more routes into work for young people.

Finally, the CIPD is appealing to parents to talk, in-depth, with their children about alternative options to university to ensure they are making the right decision for their future.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “We are providing the right mix of university places and apprenticeships to ensure more people have the opportunity to advance their careers and businesses get the skills they need to grow.

“Demands for higher education remains strong and graduates enjoy a pay premium that reflects their value to employers.”

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