Overeducation and underemployment

30 April 2019

Could you be overeducated for your job? According to the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) 31% of graduates are. The figure is higher for those graduating after 2007 (34%) and is 22% for those graduating before 1992.

Of course, most graduates will start at a lower level and hope to be promoted during their careers. This may explain why the numbers are higher for graduates aged 25 to 49 years old. The ONS also notes that graduates in arts and humanities are more likely to be over-qualified for the job that they do.

Overeducation does not only affect graduates, however the overall rate in 2017 was 16% and has been consistent since 2006.

Using earnings as a guide, the ONS noted that other priorities might account for this phenomenon, it also noted that education and job-related skills were not the same thing.

"A person can be overeducated if they possess more education than required for the job," according to the ONS. "It can also be seen as a form of underemployment, hence contributing to the extent of labour market slack". Especially if a worker's skills and knowledge are not being used.

The news is not all bad for graduates, however. A postgraduate degree still has a significant benefit in terms of earnings. Holders of postgraduate degrees can earn up to 40% more than those without a degree.



What is overeducation?

What is underemployment?

Is this a problem in your country? What are the most useful qualifications in your country?



Match words in the text to the meanings. Highlight below for solutions

a graduate – a person who has studied at university

to graduate – to complete university successfully

to be promoted – to get a better job

the humanities – a study of philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history, language, etc.

rate – an amount or measure

phenomenon – something observed

hence - therefore

slack – room for development, manoeuvre

significant – important, large



Passive modals. Can you find examples of passive modals in the text?

Could you be overeducated for your job?

A person can be overeducated …

It can also be seen as a form of …

Notice that the modal verb is followed by the infinitive of ‘to be’ and the past participle of the main verb (this is easier to see with he irregular verb ‘to see’).


More passive grammar, click here











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