Graduates’ Labour Market Outcome During the Coronavirus Pandemic: Occupation Switches and Skill Mismatch
Graduate workers were better able to change occupations in the periods prior to and in the first few months of the crisis, compared with workers in the total labour force in the UK. These occupational shifts may have been helped by their wider skill set. Given the higher level of human capital, graduates may be in a stronger position to adjust to challenges imposed by the pandemic in terms of retaining jobs and finding new employment opportunities; however, these jobs may not be of the same quality and they may not fit their skill profile. However, the general population had a higher incidence of occupational switching between Quarter 2 (Apr to June) and Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2020 as the effects of the pandemic began to be felt. This may suggest those who hold a degree were better able to remain in their jobs over the period.
1. Indeed, we find that during the first three quarters of 2020, graduates who changed occupations have moved out of the highest-skilled jobs and into intermediate and low-skilled ones. The skill mismatch, on the other hand, has been declining during the pandemic, continuing the downward trend that started in 2018. This may be because of a better match with the educational requirement of occupations, allowed by the fact that graduates are better able to work remotely because of the nature of their work.
2. A decline in the skill mismatch during the pandemic could also be a consequence of the increase in the unemployment rates among graduates, as sectors with a high proportion of overqualified graduates, such as hospitality and recreation, have drastically reduced their activity. These areas are some of the many questions for future research around this topic.
3. As the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the labour market is still unfolding, concrete conclusions on the basis of these findings are not possible. However, our analysis shows that graduate workers may fare better in their labour market outcomes in the current crisis, compared with non-graduates.
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