Tag: unemployment

News: Low unemployment amongst Norwegian Master graduates

logo_en_graa-300x120New data from a NIFU report suggests that nine out of ten of Norwegian Masters degree graduates are at work six months after graduation. The data was compiled based on a nation wide survey of Masters degree candidates six months after graduation where main focus was put on the transfer from education to work. The main findings from the report are summarised in the following key points:

In general, there are few changes in the employability and unemployment amongst graduates is 6,8%. While there are generally minor differences in the general unemployment rates of new graduates, the group where unemployment had risen more than others,  was those in economic-administrative disciplines. Furthermore, despite for continuous calls for more education in natural sciences that has been prominent in Norwegian public debate in recent years, the report indicated that those with a background in natural sciences have a rather high unemployment level (9,6%), while unemployment is on below average level for those with engineering degrees (6%).

There has been a substantial growth in the number of masters degrees in Norway between 2003 and 2013, and there has been a debate on what has been termed “Masters Disease” (Mastersyke) in Norwegian media, where a core argument has been that Norwegian higher education educates too many with Masters degrees and that this kind of over-education has adverse effects on the labour market. However, the NIFU report does not suggest that there has been an increase in the mismatch between labour market needs and graduate educational levels, and this is in fact relevant for all disciplinary fields. There is indeed a certain number of Masters degree candidates working on positions where a bachelors degree would sufficient. At the same time, what is notable is that the share of these graduates has not increased despite a substantial increase of Masters degree candidates in recent years. As such, the report does not confirm the anecdotal stories of candidates with masters degrees working in low-skilled work where no higher education is not required, suggesting that the labour market and educational structure in Norway is  different than what one can find in countries such as the US.

New report: College degrees still worth it in the US, but not equally

hardtimesThe Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University has produced a new report titled “Hard Times” examining the issues of unemployment of graduates in the context of the current economic crisis in the US.

While there have been recent media coverage on graduate unemployment in the US and questions have been raised whether college pays off at the time of increased unemployment and skyrocketing debt from tuition fees. From being a taken for granted benefit, for instance conservative pundit William Bennett argues in his latest book that one should  think long and hard before sending their kids to college.

The report from Georgetwon University establishes that at times of crisis when one examines college graduates age 25 or higher, their unemployment rates are significantly lower than of those without higher education: 9–10 percent for non-college graduates compared to 4.6–4.7 percent for college graduates. However – it is not only that education matters, it is what you study that matters even more.

The five fields with clearly highest unemployment rates are Information systems, Architecture, Anthropoliy, Film/Photo/Arts, and Political Science, whereas the fields with a clearly lowest unemployment rates include Nursing, Elementary Education, Physical Fitness, Chemistry and Finance.

Finding architecture graduates in the list is perhaps not surprising with the real estate bubble having burst and with a generous oversupply of housing existing in the US. The unemployment rates for Information systems (14,7%) graduates might seem somewhat more surprising, as also other IT graduates have a relatively high unemployment  rate (over 8% for computer science). Social sciences in general provide relatively bad prospects with political science in the t op five worst fields, but also sociology (9,9%) and economics (10,4%) leading to high levels of unemployment. Regarding humanities and arts it is archeology and anthropology (12,6%) that are provide least future jobs.

One third of young people with a tertiary degree from China by 2020?

Global talent pool in 2020 (Source: OECD)

There is a widespread assumption of the developed parts of the world being on the forefront of development and innovation – with occasional warnings of up-and-coming countries. However, when examining where the largest number of graduates is going to be by 2020, the image looks very different.

Pedro Garcia de León, Corinne Heckmann, and Gara Rojas González  from the OECD have compiled and visualised the prognosis on the developments in participation rates in OECD and G20 countries. Their prognosis indicates that almost one third of people with higher education in the OECD and G20 countries are going to be from China in 2020.

The growth in graduation rates has been particularly notable in the non-OECD G20 countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa that have shown almost 65% increase in enrolments between 2000 to 2010. On the other hand, OECD countries only showed a growth of about 30%.

Skills mismatch a threat to competitiveness of Europe?

The most recent skills forecast provided by CEDEFOP is highlighting that European competitiveness might in the long run be threatened by a skills mismatch. The article indicates that while currently facing large rates of unemployment in many parts of Europe,  the EU can expect 8 million new jobs between 2010 and 2020, in addition to the ca 75 million that will be made vacant through retirement.

This means also that the matching of demand and the available workforce becomes increasingly important. Christian Lettmayr, the director of CEDEFOP commented on this as: “Concerns over possible mismatches should not discourage people from seeking higher qualifications. A highly-qualified workforce is one of – if not the – most important factor for Europe’s competitiveness.”

While this is difficult to disagree with, this might be meager consolation for the students entering higher education who in Europe increasingly cover the costs of their studies. Obtaining a high level of student loan, accompanied with a labour market that cannot accommodate graduates from certain fields, it becomes important for students to make the right choices.