Misusing our talent? Overeducation, overskilling and skill underutilisation among Spanish PhD graduates

Publicado: 02 Noviembre 2016
Antonio di Paolo, Ferrán Mañé

Di Paolo, A. and Mañé, F. (2016): Misusing our talent? Overeducation, overskilling and skill underutilisation among Spanish PhD graduates, The Economic and Labour Relations Review.DOI:10.1177/1035304616657479.

Abstract

The ‘knowledge economy’ is said to depend increasingly on capacities for innovation, knowledge-generation and complex problem-solving – capacities attributed to university graduates with research degrees. To what extent, however, is the labour market absorbing and fully utilising these capabilities? Drawing on data from a recent cohort of PhD graduates, we examine the correlates and consequences of qualification and skills mismatch. We show that job characteristics such as economic sector and main work activity play a fundamental and direct role in explaining the phenomenon of mismatch, experienced as overeducation and overskilling. Academic attributes operate mostly indirectly in explaining this mismatch, since their effect loses importance once we control for job-related characteristics. We detected a significant earnings penalty for those who are both overeducated and overskilled. Being mismatched reduces satisfaction with the job as a whole and with non-monetary aspects of the job, especially for those whose skills are underutilised. Overall, the problem of mismatch among PhD graduates is closely related to the demand-side constraints of the labour market. Increasing the number of adequate jobs and broadening the job skills that PhD students acquire during training should be explored as possible responses.