English title: The Overeducation Phenomenon: Data and Lessons from Central and Eastern Europe

Author(s): Petya Ilieva-Trichkova - Pepka Boyadjieva -

Language: English

Type: Conference paper/poster

Year: 2013

Abstract

The economic crisis in Central and Eastern European countries did not begin in 2008 since after 1989 they were exposed to austerity measures due to their transition from planned to market economy and the reforms undertaken in many public spheres. All this contributed to rising of the level of social inequalities (economic, regional, gender, etc) in these countries and opened new spaces for vulnerability and social exclusion of diverse groups of their populations. In this context the group of tertiary graduates has been considered as the least vulnerable one on the labour market when compared with the groups with primary and secondary education and when these comparisons are made on the base of the unemployment rates among these groups. However, if we try to capture different aspects of employment, the picture changes significantly. For example, recent comparative data on graduate employment reveal that even before the economic crisis a quarter of higher education graduates aged 25-34 in EU 27 and 28.4% of these in Bulgaria were employed in a job that required lower level of education (Eurostudent 2009). In the light of these trends the present paper focuses on employment opportunities of tertiary graduates by exploring educational mismatch on the labour market in the context of higher education expansion and economic crisis among the New Member States. The analysis draws on data from the European Social Survey. It uses descriptive statistics and regression analysis. Our preliminary results show that the educational mismatch is widely spread and persistent phenomenon among diverse groups of graduates across countries. We also argue that despite the common past of these countries and the fact that they were exposed to the same challenges after 1989 the shares of educational mismatch will differ significantly across countries since they followed different routes in the transition period. The high proportion of graduates who experience educational mismatch on the labour market in the context of New Member States casts doubt on the dominant policy discourse on employability according to which higher education should serve the economy and should enhance employability of people. This discourse adopts a very narrow view to employability and does not take into account its relative aspect, namely, that the employability of graduates depends also on the number of graduates in the economy and quality of their education and skills. Our findings suggest that the problems that tertiary graduates currently experience may be explained partly by the fact that in the context of higher education expansion higher education has characteristics of a positional good but at the same time they question the capacity of the economy to create enough good jobs for graduates.

Conference name: Central and Eastern Europe: Work, Employment and Societies between Transition and Change

Location: Evry

Start date: Nov 21, 2013

Type: Paper