Old News, Current Problem: Over-Qualified Graduates in the UK

The lack of graduate jobs in the UK and the subsequent un- and underemployment of university leavers have been decried for years. New research now reports that over-qualification has reached saturation point, with woeful impacts on the UK economy.


According to a report commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), more than half the UK’s graduates are wasting their degrees in jobs that do not require a university qualification and are thereby driving lower skilled workers out of their jobs. Furthermore, the authors warn that the money invested in education is wasted, leaving young people crippled by debt as they enter an increasingly competitive labor market. Importantly, the discrepancy between the qualifications and skills of university leavers and those needed by the labor market has severe macroeconomic impacts, as it affects economic competitiveness and growth negatively, increases unemployment, undermines social inclusion, and generates significant economic and social costs.

“The assumption that we will transition to a more productive, higher-value, higher-skilled economy just by increasing the conveyor belt of graduates is proven to be flawed,” said CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese. “Simply increasing the qualification level of individuals going into a job does not typically result in the skill required to do the job being enhanced – in many cases that skills premium, if it exists at all, is simply wasted. This situation is unsustainable given that the government estimates that 45% of university graduates will not earn enough to repay their student loans.”

Indeed, the UK is trailing behind other European countries, leaving only Greece and Estonia with a higher underemployment rate. While countries such as Germany, Switzerland or Slovenia have underemployment rates of around 10%, a staggering 58.8% of students in the UK are not using the qualifications from their degree. The findings of the CIPD are supported by a claim from the Office for National Statistics in 2013 that half of recent graduates in the UK were in non-graduate jobs.
overqualification graduates europe

Graduates in non-graduate jobs, 2004 and 2010. The CIPD report noted a rise of underemployment in most European countries. Illustration: European Social Survey

In order to improve the bleak outlooks of graduates, the CIPD suggests raising the profile of alternatives to a degree such as apprenticeships and re-evaluating how employers invest in further training. The report thus applies a Malthusian logic to the issue of over-qualification, arguing that young people should rather pursue alternatives to a university education as the demand for skilled work on the UK labor market is saturated. Indeed countries, such as Switzerland, with a dual education system that fosters apprenticeships and other alternative educations perform significantly better in terms of matching qualifications with labor market demands.

The UK’s poor record is thus only the latest evidence of the skills mismatch and labor market frictions across Europe – a phenomenon investigated in the Nobel Prize winning research of Diamond, Mortensen and Pissarides. On the basis of this research, JANZZ.technology has developed a practical tool to recognize discrepancies between labor market demands and skills supplied by workers. Its solutions thus offer an effective way of gaining the necessary information in order to get better value out of an education system and to increase an economy’s productivity. As the CIPD has recognized, better information about degrees and their prospects might just be the first step to recovery.


Survival of the Fittest: Badly Educated Men Struggling to Keep Up

Badly educated men in rich countries are a species hit hard by the changing demands of the labor market. They have enjoyed unwarranted advantages in the labor market simply because of their sex for decades and centuries but now their fortune is changing.

The Economist emphasized in an article how men cluster both at the top and the bottom of US society. While 95% of Fortune 500 CEOs, 98% of Forbes’ self-made billionaires are male and 93% of world’s government heads are male, men are also far more likely than women to be imprisoned, killed in a homicide or commit suicide. Indeed, men finding themselves increasingly divided between the highest and lowest rungs of society are an issue that is played out not only in the US but also in much of the rest of the industrialized world.


Over the past decades, women have caught up intensively on education and are now earning 57% of degrees in OECD countries. Boys are 50% more likely to fail all three basic subjects in school: mathematics, reading and science. Book-smartness was not an essential qualification in the past but now it is hard to find even low skilled work without a basic school degree. While it is still hard for women to break the glass ceiling, they dominate 20 of the 30 occupations that are expected to grow fastest in the coming years (e.g. nursing, accounting, child care). Hence, the gap between the sexes can be expected to grow even more.

The issue is not only the lack of education or qualifications that causes many men to do poorly in the present world of digitalized, automatized and outsourced workflows but a refusal to think outside of traditional gender roles. There is no more real money in muscle work, work that badly educated men have traditionally exercised, as machines replace a great number of manual workers and foreign workers do the same job for a fraction of the money. Hence, it is literally not the strongest species that survives, as Darwin said, but the one that is most adaptable.

It is clear that the men at the bottom would need to reinvent themselves in order to catch up with the fast paced labor market. But where to start? JANZZ.technology offers with its cutting-edge semantic knowledge base of occupation and skills data a means to analyze skills gaps and to manage talent effectively. It can easily find what skills a person is lacking in order to exercise a certain occupation. Also statistical analyses of a whole community or society can be conducted by means of JANZZ.technology’s ontology in order to get to the bottom of issues in the labor market.

A Look into the Crystal Ball: Future Work Skills

The Institute for the Future (IFTF) has recently published a study about the most important work skills for the future. Yet, those who expect to find a guideline will be disappointed.

Due to the rapidly changing demands of the labor market, the study has found that foresight and adaptability will be the key to success. The top ten skills for 2020 listed by the IFTF therefore contain abilities like “sense-making”, “transdisciplinarity” or “novel and adaptive thinking” (see graphic below). What sound like the predictions of a horoscope, which will prove true no matter what, is actually symptomatic of the driving forces behind the increasingly automatized and interconnected work force.

Indeed the changing demographic, the rise of smart machines and new media, the progressive globalization and the changing structures of organizations are causing disruptions in the labor market that oblige individuals and organizations to rethink the way they approach career paths. As machines replace humans in an increasing number of tasks, and augment them in others, humans need to find what they are uniquely good at and what makes them indispensable.

While the study might for many parts be preaching to the converted, it is nevertheless interesting to read it as a symptom of the changing attitude towards work. The study reflects the decline of a rigid occupation image that is increasingly substituted by freelancing, working in projects, job sharing and of course a great variety of career opportunities. The key statements of the IFTF anticipating an even more flexible and fluid job market for the future reverberate with the reality as we already know it.

We find ourselves in world of skills rather than jobs. Therefore, finding the right job opportunities for one’s skill set becomes more and more important. As the job platform JANZZ.jobs matches skills with occupations and projects, it is the ideal means to connect individuals with the right work opportunities and to help them reassess the skills they need or discover possible career paths. JANZZ.jobs contains all the skills of the world.


McKinsey Estimates the Potential of Online Job Platforms at $2.7 Trillion

With global unemployment on the rise, finding an effective solution to connect workers with the right jobs and projects has become a pressing issue. The new McKinsey Global Institute report finds that online job or talent platforms offer an immense potential to fight unemployment and increase the productivity of the labor market, as they are set to meet the demands of the ever more complex and international job market today.

Presently, 30 to 50 percent of the working-age population is unemployed or only occupied in part-time positions. This amounts to as many as 850 million of people in seven of the world’s major economies who cannot find work, even though the technology and healthcare industries struggle to fill open positions. Furthermore, a study by LinkedIn found that 37 percent of people feel they are overqualified for their jobs. These mismatches between workers, their skills and occupations aggregate to an immense and costly waste of potential for the global economy.

These mismatches and the increasing inability of employment professionals and public employment services to cope with the complexities of the current labor market begs the need for a smarter and faster way to connect workers with job opportunities. Online talent platforms, like Monster.com or LinkedIn, provide marketplaces and tools that try to find the right work opportunities for job seekers. Over the past years they have accumulated hundreds of millions of users worldwide. While these platforms increase transparency in job markets and draw in new participants, the potential of online talent platforms is far from exhausted. Conventional platforms like Monster.com or LinkedIn, which are based on key-word search, still lack the sophistication to deal with imprecise job titles such as “consultant” and evolving work practices such as short term projects, freelancing and job sharing etc., resulting in many doubtful matches for people and jobs – as most of us can probably attest from personal experience.

McKinsey estimates that online talent platforms could add $2.7 trillion to the global GDP by 2025 and increase employment by 72 million full-time-equivalent positions. McKinsey forecasts that up to 540 million people worldwide could profit from talent platforms in various ways, from finding a new job faster to finding a job better suited to their skills. The potential of online job platforms is immense, even if they reach merely a fraction of the global workforce. However, if job platforms are set to solve the global mismatch in the labor market, thereby creating a significant macroeconomic impact, they require technical innovation that allows them to connect talent and opportunities accurately.

JANZZ.jobs takes up the issue of matching people and jobs where conventional job platforms left off. It offers state-of-the art matching tools that bring together all of the world’s knowledge and skills quickly and accurately, irrespective of the language used. It is for job seekers, employers, freelancers and public employment services. It can precisely match qualifications and hard and soft skills in order to find the perfect job opportunities for people or vice versa. Hence, it goes beyond the conventional key-word search that most platforms offer. It takes connecting skills and opportunities to yet another level.

Software Set to Break with Bias in Job Applications

With gender diversity becoming an ever more important feature of tech companies, some employers are at a loss how to attract more women. As the graphic from Gigaom shows, tech companies struggle to attain an equal number of male and female employees, especially in leadership or technical roles. While the Mad Men days of overt discrimination against women might be over, unconscious bias is still affecting employers and job seekers, resulting in dismal diversity numbers. Cutting-edge software has the open mind that employers lack.

According to a study recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, job listings may contain a subtle, unconscious gender bias in the way they are phrased. Even though, these listings do not explicitly exclude women or people of colour, the language in these ads may keep them from even applying. The paper found that this issue was especially prevalent in the engineering and programming industry, as such companies included significantly more “masculine words”. Job listings containing words like “competitive”, “dominant” or “strong” made women less interested in applying – even when they possessed the necessary qualifications. Also phrases like “a proven track record” resulted in more male applicants, whereas “a passion for learning” attracted female job seekers. Unconsciously then, tech companies are upholding the status quo.

As employers find they can’t trust their own objectivity anymore, detecting and preventing unconscious bias has become a growing business. Computer scientist Laura Mather has recently created a computer programme to fight biased hiring decisions. Her start-up Unitive develops software that helps companies detect gender biased formulations and rephrase their job listings in a more gender-neutral way in order to attract more women. Furthermore, the programme has a resume review portion that separates the candidate’s education from their experience in order to circumvent for example a systematic preference for Ivy League schools. Also the job platform JANZZ.jobs offers its users the benefit of gradual anonymity as it does away with the rhetoric customarily found in job descriptions. The platform helps with the formulation of objective requirements and facilitates a largely discrimination-free and transparent application process.

Technologies such as those developed by Unitive and JANZZ.jobs are investments into the future. Mather says “the companies that invest in this now are going to be ahead profit-wise, innovation-wise and they probably aren’t going to have as many lawsuits”.

Recruiter: Dutch firm WCC Smart Search & Match partners with JANZZ

Dutch software company WCC Smart Search & Match and Swiss skills and job matching technology and consulting company JANZZ.technology have entered into a strategic partnership.

A statement from the companies said the partnership would see an increase in collaboration on future large-scale and complex projects, as well as combining knowledge and experience.

Read the article on the website of Recruiter.

JANZZ.technology and WCC Group enter into strategic partnership.

As of April 2015, the Dutch software company WCC Smart Search & Match has entered into a comprehensive strategic partnership with JANZZ.technology, the Swiss technology and consulting company for skills and job matching. The main objectives of this partnership are to increase collaboration on future large-scale and complex projects, to combine knowledge and experience, and to incorporate both companies’ comprehensive know-how regarding challenging global, multilingual projects in the public employment services (PES), staffing, corporate HR and other relevant job matching areas. For example, the comprehensive ontology JANZZon!, which already contains around 20 million terms from the occupation data area, is set to support and augment WCC’s proven and successful ELISE software platform, allowing new multilingual functionalities with even greater accuracy in search and match.

The resulting synergies will benefit the many renowned clients and global organizations of WCC and JANZZ.technology in the future, extending their advantage still further in the areas of automatic classification, multilingual and semantic ontologies, complex and tailored matching algorithms and the processing of big occupation data.

Information about WCC Group

WCC Smart Search & Match is world’s leading supplier of search and match software solutions and services. WCC focuses on two specific solution areas: employment matching and identity matching. Its ELISE software platform excels in these areas because it uses a unique way of searching and matching data, providing more meaningful results. ELISE is designed to search through vast amounts of data from various sources and give meaningful results in a matter of seconds. It will search and match data in almost any form, be it exact or inexact, structured or unstructured, private or public, and combine multiple modalities (biographic or biometric). WCC’s primary customers are large government organizations and large companies worldwide. The company is headquartered in Utrecht, the Netherlands and has offices in the USA and the Middle East.


Information about JANZZ.technology

JANZZ.technology is a technology and consulting company active in the field of semantic skills and job matching, and in the use of complex occupation and skills data. It offers standard and white-label products and SaaS solutions for the modelling, analysis and use of big data on job portals, by public employment services, and on companies’ own job sites. Using the latest semantic technologies to precisely match qualifications and hard and soft skills across different languages, it considerably alleviates the matching problems associated with asymmetric search mechanisms in job markets.



WCC Group
Zonnebaan 19
3542 EA Utrecht
The Netherlands

Marie-Louise Scheers
Marketing Coordinator
Tel: +31 30 750 3233

4uGroup AG
Nidelbadstrasse 6
8038 Zurich

Stefan Winzenried
Tel: +41 43 499 71 04

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