Too much school?

Some 21% of workers are over-qualified for the jobs they do. This is a key finding in the first edition of the OECD Skills Outlook, which reports on a survey of skills among 157,000 adults in 24 countries and regions.

The report provides a rare opportunity to gauge how workers’ qualifications match the qualifications required by their jobs. The study finds that the incidence of over-qualification ranges from less than 15% in Italy and the Netherlands to 30% or more in Japan and the UK.

Making the most of human capital means ensuring that a worker’s qualifications and skills are well matched to those required by their job. It is important for firms wishing to maximise productivity and reduce turnover. More importantly, it is vital for the workers themselves as it greatly affects their wages and levels of job satisfaction. But it’s an important concern for policy makers too as mismatches can increase unemployment and reduce GDP growth by wasting human capital and reducing productivity.

Some mismatch is inevitable. Skills and qualification requirements, which can be affected by technological change, client needs and other factors, are never fixed and there are many reasons why some workers might find themselves, at least temporarily, in jobs for which they are too qualified. Also, young graduates or people moving from unemployment into employment may accept jobs that do not necessarily match their qualifications. 

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Also see Education at a Glance

© OECD Observer No 296 Q3 2013

Economic data

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Last update: 10 Nov 2020

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