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Half of UK workers are in the wrong job

3 October 2018

Half of UK workers are in the wrong jobThere is a disconnect between the skills that people have and the jobs they are in, according to a new survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Almost half (49%) of UK workers are in jobs they are either under- or over-skilled for, according to the CIPD research. Its report, Over-skilled and underused: Investigating the untapped potential of UK skills, surveyed 3,700 UK employees. It found that more than a third (37%) of workers have the skills to cope with more demanding duties than they currently have.

At the opposite end of the scale, 12% of employees said they lacked all the skills needed to carry out their job effectively. It means that as many as half (49%) of UK workers could be in the wrong job, based on their skill level.

The UK has one of most skilled workforces in the world, with 42% of workers qualified to degree level, yet it also has the highest proportion of jobs within the OECD which require no qualifications at all.

The report reveals that many graduates are in jobs which do not require degree level qualifications. Almost a third (30%) of respondents said that while a degree is required to get their job, lower qualifications are actually needed to do their job effectively. And more employees with a university degree said they were under-skilled for their role (14%) compared to those without one (10%).

The survey also found that being over-skilled can have negative consequences. Just 53% of over-skilled workers said they are satisfied with their jobs compared to 74% of people whose skills are well-suited to their role.

Lizzie Crowley, CIPD skills adviser, said: "How skills are used, or not used, in the workplace has important economic and social implications, and is a key factor in tackling the UK's productivity crisis.

"Individuals who report using their skills fully in the workplace have higher levels of job satisfaction, earn more and are more resilient to change, while businesses benefit from a more productive workforce and increased profitability. However, we have ended up in a situation where our economy isn't creating nearly enough high-skilled jobs, while the proportion of low-skilled roles remains stubbornly high."

To address the skills mismatch, the CIPD has made the following recommendations:

  • The chancellor should use the Budget to boost investment in skills development through the National Productivity Investment Fund;
  • High quality careers advice should be offered in schools;
  • More high quality vocational routes into work should be created;
  • Employers should invest in formal training for line managers;
  • Government must work in partnership with employers, unions, sector bodies, Local Enterprise Partnerships and local authorities at a national, sector and local level to support employers.

The CIPD has published a guide for employers: Countering skills mismatches through people management practice.

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