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Growing numbers of graduates overqualified for jobs

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Increasing numbers of third-level graduates are working in occupations in which they are overqualified according to research from the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI).

The study found that as graduate numbers outpace high-end employment opportunities in the Irish economy, graduates are increasingly having to take up lower-paid employment.

According to the research, over a generation, Ireland has expanded third-level education by more than almost any other EU country by vastly increasing the numbers of third-level graduates from households with parents with lower levels of formal education.

However, labour market opportunities in high-end employment have not kept pace and graduates, especially the sons and daughters of parents who did not go to third level, are increasingly working in jobs that have lower skill requirements and are lower paid.

Following on from a report on the overqualification of third-level graduates in Ireland last year, NERI, with the support of the Irish Research Council and the Department of Sociology at Maynooth University, has published a series of 3 themed reports on third-level education and employment outcomes in 13 high-income EU countries.

“In broad terms, the reports show that since the 1990s, Ireland has transitioned from having one of the lowest shares of third-level graduates to the highest in a high-income EU context,” said Ciarán Nugent, Economist at NERI.

“Most of this occurred by narrowing the gap of third-level attainment by social origin (by increasing the numbers going to third level from families who weren’t in the high level of formal education bracket themselves),” Mr Nugent said.

The research found that graduates are increasingly filling jobs with lower skills requirements in services, sales and clerical roles and that this is ‘bumping down’ adults with lower levels of formal education out of the labour market entirely who in the past might have filled these roles.

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