More Graduates Overqualified for Their Jobs, Study Shows

Batol Ahmad
Published 2 weeks ago on 9 February, 2024
Increasing number of third-level graduates working in jobs for which they are overqualified, report finds

An in-depth analysis by The Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI) has highlighted a concerning trend in the Irish job market: More graduates overqualified for their jobs. This phenomenon, affecting the balance between education and employment, has raised questions about the efficacy of the country’s education expansion policies and their impact on the labor market.

Key takeaways

  • Ireland has significantly expanded third-level education.
  • Graduates often work in roles below their qualification level.
  • Overqualification affects 30% of Irish working graduates.
  • Lower-educated individuals are being displaced in the job market.
  • Employment rates for lower-educated under 40s have dropped drastically.
The NERI report finds that while Ireland boasts a high number of third-level graduates, many are overqualified for their current jobs, leading to underemployment and a challenging job market for those with lower education levels.

Overqualification: A Growing Issue Among Irish Graduates

The NERI report sheds light on the increasing number of third-level graduates working in jobs for which they are overqualified. This trend is not only a reflection of the expanding education sector but also indicates a mismatch in the labor market. With more graduates than high-end jobs available, many find themselves in roles that do not fully utilize their skills and education.

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Impact on Employment for Lower-Educated Individuals

The rise in third-level graduates has had a ripple effect on the broader job market. Those without a third-level education are finding it increasingly difficult to compete for jobs, as roles traditionally filled by this group are now being taken by overqualified graduates. This “bumping down” effect has led to a significant decline in employment rates for less-educated individuals, particularly those under 40.

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Year Graduates in High-End Jobs Employment Rate for Lower-Educated Under 40s
2007 67% 50%
2019 54.5% 20%
EU Average 8.6% N/A

In conclusion, the more graduates overqualified for their jobs has become a pressing issue in Ireland. The NERI report finds a concerning trend where the surge in educational attainment is not translating into suitable job opportunities, leading to a saturated market of overqualified individuals and a challenging environment for those with lower levels of education. As Ireland continues to grapple with these educational and labor market dynamics, the need for a balanced approach to education and employment policies becomes ever more apparent.


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