Are you (un) employed? Check what you have studied!

Posted on 12. December 2012

by Lukáš Fúčela

Lukas FucelaAs my FutureLab Fellow Juliane Sarnes has mentioned in her recent blog the European Commission proposed a package of measures „Youth Employment Package“ to help to find the solution for almost one quarter of young Europeans who are currently unemployed.

I definitely appreciate such initiatives which are trying to inter alia strengthen the skills of fresh graduates and help them to bond with the actual job market needs.However, as I have myself experienced the process of adapting to the field of employment after graduating just half a year ago I wanted to find out more about the causes of present critical situation in which are found total 23 per cent of young Europeans.

What really strikes me even more than the total number unemployed graduates is that the young people that have already found a job with a lot of luck are not employed in the deserved or studied area. This implies that the majority of young people are overeducated / not educated for their current occupation which means the primary investments into their education (which is by the way one of the priorities of the EU) were wasted.

I would not say it is just a problem of few Member States – all over the Europe are young people are “forced” to seek employment in professions unrelated to their field of study. This generates a vicious circle of trying to find (and fund) solutions for graduates from fields that are incapable to match the job market needs and simultaneously funding unsuitable public educational system in many Member States.

I had a great chance to observe this situation very closely as a most of my friends and acquaintances were actually graduating this year. Not merely just classmates from my major or faculty but graduates from wide range of subjects of study were one-by-one changing their employment status on LinkedIn or Facebook to companies and businesses totally out of their specialization. I could understand it if these students were previously affiliated with these types of professions in their part-time jobs during studies but this happened really just in rare cases.

Furthermore I want to note two things: first, there were definitely some exceptions in fields of studies like Medicine and secondly, it is at least satisfactory that many of the graduates found some employment but still I cannot resist the feeling of wasting public money on approximately 5 years of education its contribution will be never used in real life and economy. I was wondering if this situation occurs to the same extent also in other countries or let say in old Member States where educational system had been ahead of the “Eastern” one and were able to adapt and cope with the pros and cons of post-modern Europe many years ago.

It is very difficult to assess the applicability of particular subjects on study in the whole EU27 due to the specifics of single, thus inhomogeneous market. To find some correlation between the unsatisfactory unemployment rate of young generation and system of education in general I have compared subjects of tertiary education divided to 8 main categories (due to data availability) with the rate of unemployment of young people.

In the table below there are highlighted countries with the highest (Top 15) representation of graduates in each of the study group depicted in per cent from all study groups and total rank between EU27. Under each study group there is the number countries which are both in Top 15 of selected study group and also in the Top 15 countries with highest youth unemployment rate. For illustrative purposes there are shown in the right corner of the table also public expenditures of Member States and their rank (data for Greece are n/a).

My purpose of this table was to find out if there is any correlation between types of graduates and level of youth (un) employment in Member States. I am aware of that this division is very rough and it would be more appropriate to compare particular majors. I was more than surprised that the subjects: “Humanities & Arts” and “Teaching & Training” and of course I was expecting success of group “Science, Math. & Computing” scored well.  On the other hand the unfavourable result of “Services” was not so striking as the score of “Engin.,Manuf. & Construction”, with countries like Austria, Sweden and Finland in top three “market share” in this study group.

Results shown in this chart will definitely have higher information value within five or ten years after graduation of future classes. These students had higher chance to direct their education according to recent development in job market and economic crisis. One of the key motivations for preparing this assessment was also to compare the dreadful condition of tertiary educational system in Slovakia producing graduates of almost no use at high costs which I had witnessed and the situation in other Member States. Your comments and personal experience are more than welcome. Thank you for taking time to read my blog.


(attached table was prepared especially for purposes of this blog)