Academics lament glut of graduates

The
UK is producing too many graduates and the demand for ‘knowledge workers’ has
been seriously over-estimated, leading academics have revealed.

A
study of more than 28 million UK jobs found that only 32 per cent were
knowledge-based, traditionally requiring a university graduate.

This
falls well short of the current government estimates, which suggest that
between 70 and 80 per cent of the workforce are knowledge-based workers.

According
to the research, around half of all jobs in the UK are highly-routinised
manufacturing roles with strict routines. There are few indications that this
will change in the future.

Lancaster
University’s Anthony Hesketh, co-author of the research, said the demand for
low-skill work far outstripped the need for more graduates.

"We
have tended to think that there has been an explosion in the number of jobs
requiring knowledge workers. In reality, the situation is that growth has
stalled. Lower skilled jobs have expanded at far faster rates than
knowledge-worker jobs," he said.

With
about 400,000 graduates entering the labour market each year, Hesketh and
co-author Phillip Brown, of Cardiff University, estimate there to be around
62,000 designated graduate jobs available.

"A
university degree is not enough to make one employable, as credentials do no
more than permit entry into the competition for tough-entry jobs rather than
entry into the winner’s enclosure," he explained.

However,
the research, soon to be published in a book by the Oxford University Press,
showed the number of knowledge workers has grown by 5 per cent since 1981.

The
study also looked at 145 million jobs across the US economy and found that only
one in five roles were knowledge-based.

By
Ross Wigham

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