Over-qualification and migrants

An AMP-NATSEM report on migration released today included this figure on a long-term theme of mine, the employment outcomes of graduates:

In response to my claims that over-qualification is significant among graduates, Bob Birrell has said that the figures are distorted by the large number of over-qualified migrants. The numbers in this figure shows that this is a factor for migrants from non-English speaking countries.

However there is still about 20% over-qualification for mature workers from English-speaking backgrounds. As observed in previous discussions of this topic, there is room for debate about how serious the 20% figure is, given some will be voluntary and some temporary.

Research has shown that level of English proficiency is the biggest factor explaining differences in migrant outcomes, which explains the heavy emphasis given to it in the new points test.

3 Responses to “Over-qualification and migrants

  • 1
    conrad
    November 18th, 2010 04:07

    “Research has shown that level of English proficiency is the biggest factor explaining differences in migrant outcomes”
    .
    I’ll bet that after controlling for English levels, different migrant groups perform differently, so there are cultural factors also — but I imagine that’s not politically correct to ask.
    .
    “As observed in previous discussions of this topic, there is room for debate about how serious the 20% figure is, given some will be voluntary and some temporary”
    .
    Not that I want to side track this already, but it’s also the case that you can’t apriori predict who will be good at some things, and only some percentage of some professions will be able to do their jobs well. We accept this for sport, artistic achievement, and a small number of professions, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t be true of many and perhaps most other professions (although the proportion would be different depending on the profession). Given this, I can’t see why you won’t always have a pool of people involuntarily not working in the professions they are trained for.
    .
    I also think there should be a difference between migrants and people born here. If you are a migrant and brought in based on your qualifications, then you should be good at what you are doing. If you are born locally, then you may be in the pool of people not good at what you are doing despite being qualified. Thus, whilst these numbers may tell you something, I think if you looked deeper, the people not working in their professions may be qualitatively different.
    .
    There may be further cultural differences also. When the Greeks came out here, for example, they were generally very good at running small businesses (the Chinese are the same now). Now perhaps some of them had qualifications they could have used but were more interested in running their own businesses than working in the profession of their qualification. That’s hardly a bad thing.

  • 2
    Andrew Norton
    November 18th, 2010 10:26

    Conrad – I don’t disagree with you, though in all the enthusiasm to boost the number of graduates I don’t think these figures get the attention or analysis they deserve.

  • 3
    conrad
    November 18th, 2010 13:38

    yes — I agree, although surely these figures suggest that the problem of too many graduates is fairly minor (excluding the non-English speaking migrants and depending on what you think of the medium-skilled category). The next graph is important too as having a degree appears to be good protection against unemployment. At least in my books, that would suggest that having a degree may raise some rather unemployable people into the employable category, something often not taken into account when many people are thinking about whether or not there are too many graduates.