New Report Shows Millions Of Us Are Overqualified For The Jobs We’re Working In

New figures reveal that millions of young people are working menial jobs they’re over qualified for


by Sophie Cullinane |
Published on

Reports on youth unemployment due to be published tomorrow look encouraging on the surface – another decline in the UK to around 2.3million – 900,000 aged between 16 to 24 – the lowest since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008.

But scratch that surface and it's clear there's a bigger problem – underemployment; or, in other words, 2.5 million skilled graduates in jobs they're way too overqualified for. Analysis from the Local Government Association claim 40% of 16 to 24-year-olds fail to make the most of their qualifications in the workplace, with nearly 1.3 million out of work and a further 1.2 million who are ‘underemployed or overqualified,’ with the proportion being close to 50% in some areas.

The problem of ‘underemployment’ and ‘underachievement’ is particularly acute in industrial cities in the north of England – in places like Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield and Manchester, where the number of unemployed and underemployed young people has soared in size from 750,00 in 2005.

One person who will be unsurprised by the Statistics is Cat Williams, a 23-year-old first-class honours Fine Art student who spent last year emptying soap dispensers, picking up used hand towels and knelt on dirty bathroom doors cleaning toilet bowls at a prominent London gallery.

‘I’ve always wanted to be a curator at a gallery, but after I left uni I just couldn’t find work anywhere,’ Cat told The Debrief. ‘For eight months, I sent my CV to galleries every day and applied for every internship I could find, but no one ever even bothered to email me back. When I saw a toilet-cleaning job advertised at a great London gallery, it felt like it was the only way I’d ever get a chance to work there. It might be ridiculous to even think it but I reasoned that maybe when an internship comes up in a department I really care about, they’ll at least know my name. And I needed the cash.'

But Cat insists that she wasn't the only graduate applying for the job. ‘The interview process for my toilet cleaning job was ridiculously intense,’ she says. ‘Eight people came into the interview and five of them were uni grads desperate for a job in the art world. The interviewer asked what my plans were for the next five years and how I thought my education might help me do the job. I fumbled an answer that I’d still want to be working here (okay, I didn’t exactly mean in the loos but they didn’t need to know that…) but come on, why do you need to know my five-year plan when I’m cleaning urinals for £6.20 an hour?’

Peter Box, the chairman of the LGA’s Economy And Transport Board, said: ‘It is simply unacceptable that we expect a third of young people to be underemployed in 2018, and it would be a travesty if young people were being left behind when the rest of the economy is growing and benefiting from this. It is all of our responsibility to make sure young people are getting the best possible start in life. We need to listen to the young people that are telling us they want more work and not let them fly under the radar because of employment statistics that make us think the situation is improving.’

But what can be done? That's the question no one seems to have answers too yet.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophiecullinane

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us