Are there too few university students? (Again)

In the latest issue of People and Place, as reported in this morning’s papers, Monash University academic Bob Birrell and his colleagues Daniel Edwards and Ian Dobson argue that there is a widening gap between the demand for and supply of university graduates.

In doing so, they disagree in part with the analysis in my paper (pdf) on graduate mismatch. One explanation they offer for the number of graduates in non-graduate jobs I explored and decided was probably not major – the possibility that it is driven by women framing work around family. Female overqualification (20%) is only slightly higher than male (18%), and there are other possible explanations such as the over-representation of women in Arts courses.

They do however raise one point that I should have explored more, which is what role migration of graduates has played in boosting numbers of university-qualified people in jobs that don’t require degrees. There is, as they say, a history of migrants having trouble finding jobs matching their formal education.

Nevertheless, I don’t think they deal with central argument: that there is no evidence anywhere in the labour market data of an aggregate shortage of graduates. In 2006, there were more than 500,000 graduates in jobs that don’t require degrees or unemployed. Continue reading “Are there too few university students? (Again)”