Study shows almost a third of jobs require a degree

A new study by Dr Golo Henseke and Professor Francis Green finds that almost a third of jobs across OECD countries are ‘graduate’ professions.

The researchers looked at 31 countries, using data drawn the OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills to measure the demand for graduate skills in the labour market.

They derived a new skills-based indicator of graduate jobs that explains graduates’ wages and job satisfaction better than existing indicators.

The researchers found that graduate jobs encompass a broader field of occupations than existing indicators suggest. Several jobs, for example in the ‘Technicians and Associate Professionals’ category, require higher education in many countries.

Altogether, almost a third of labour is deployed in graduate jobs in the 31 countries, but with large cross-national differences. For example, industry and establishment-size account for some of the variation between countries. In addition, two indicators of the relative quality and selectivity of the higher education system also contribute to the different proportion of graduate jobs across countries.

The researchers conclude that while the expansion of higher education across the globe is likely to continue, there is no guarantee that the past growth of high-skills demand will persist. Monitoring graduate job trends through the new indicator should be a useful tool to shed light on these processes, alongside analyses of rates of return.

The paper, Cross-national deployment of ‘graduate jobs’: analysis using a new indicator based on high skills use, is published in Research in Labor Economics.