graduate labour market

graduate labour market

that sector of the LABOUR MARKET in which only, or mainly graduates are employed. This market has recently expanded to include an increasingly wide range of employment, as the number of graduates seeking jobs expands and as more employers seek to, or are willing to, employ them. This involves a downward substitution of graduates for non-graduates, from the point of view of graduates, and an upward substitution from the point of view of employers.

Directly related to the expansion of HIGHER EDUCATION in modern societies in recent decades (see also MASS HIGHER EDUCATION, UNIVERSITY, POLYTECHNIC, NEW UNIVERSITY), the implications of this transformation of graduate employment have been a matter of considerable speculation, including discussion of the possible consequences of:

  1. shortages of graduates in some areas (e.g. some branches of engineering), alongside an apparent oversupply in others;
  2. the appearance, for the first time, of graduate unemployment, or longer periods of job search than previously;
  3. the possible ‘underemployment’ of some graduates as some move down-market, i.e. the apparent paradox of ‘educational upgrading’ coupled with ‘underutilization of abilities’ (Berg, 1970).

Such problems are sometimes made the basis of arguments for a check to the expansion in higher education overall, especially in areas of low employer demand, and a redirection of some resources to shortage areas (see also CREDENTIALISM). Another viewpoint, however, is that the problems are mainly ones of adjustment to the new conditions provided by an expanded supply of educated labour, and the value of a continued expansion of higher education should not be in doubt (see POSTINDUSTRIAL SOCIETY; see also SOCIAL DEMAND FOR EDUCATION).

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