Over-educated graduates, again

The annual ABS Education and Work report is out today, and so another round in the Birrell vs Norton dispute as to whether we have too few, or too many, graduates for labour force needs.

This is the first Education and Work survey using the ABS’s new occupational classifications. This mucks up my time series, but by abolishing the ‘associate professional’ classification ends my indecision as to whether these occupations should be counted as ‘graduate’ or not. Some of the occupations formerly classified as ‘associate professional’ have been transferred to the ‘professional’ or ‘managerial’ classifications that graduates typically aspire to, while others are now in the new categories of ‘technicians and trade workers’, ‘clerical and administrative service workers’, and ‘community and personal service workers’. (It was the mixed nature of the ‘associate professional’ category that made be inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the Birrell case, and count these as ‘graduate’ jobs.)

With this sharper definition of which jobs are graduate jobs, I arrive at a higher estimate of the proportion of employed graduates in ‘non-graduate’ occupations – up from 19.2% to 26.5%. That’s 644,000 persons. There are another 400,000 graduates who are not working, giving us more than a million graduates not using their qualifications. By contrast, there are about 1.8 million graduates who are using their qualifications.

This new data supports my argument earlier this year (pdf) that labour market shortages in graduate occupations are more due to a misallocation of places between disciplines than to a shortage of places overall.