Transition to work, mismatch and underemployment among graduates: An Australian longitudinal study
International Journal of Manpower
School of Business and Law
There are ongoing concerns regarding university degree credentials leading to graduate-level employment. Tracking graduate underemployment is complicated by inconsistent measures and tendencies to report on outcomes soon after graduation. Our study explored transition into graduate-level work beyond the short-term, examining how determining factors change over time.
We considered time-based underemployment (graduates are working less hours than desired) and overqualification (skills in employment not matching education level/type) perspectives. We used a national data set for 41,671 graduates of Australian universities in 2016 and 2017, surveyed at four months and three years' post-graduation, to explore determining factors in the short and medium-term. Descriptive statistical techniques and binary logistic regression were used to address our research aims.
Graduates' medium-term employment states were generally positive with reduced unemployment and increased full-time job attainment. Importantly, most graduates that were initially underemployed transited to full-time work at three years post-graduation. However, around one-fifth of graduates were overqualified in the medium-term. While there was some evidence of the initially qualified transitioning to matched employment, supporting career mobility theory, over one-third remaining overqualified. Skills, personal characteristics and degree-related factors each influenced initial overqualification, while discipline was more important in the medium-term.
Our study explores both time-based underemployment and overqualification, and over time, builds on earlier work. Given the longer-term, negative effects of mismatch on graduates' career and wellbeing, findings highlight the need for career learning strategies to manage underemployment and consideration of future labour market policy for tertiary graduates.