Materials for Teaching, Research and Policy Making



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KEY WORDS: Overqualified; Canada; Graduates; Academic Program; Economic Return.

Friedberg, L. (2003). The impact of technological change on older workers: Evidence from data on computer use. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 56(3), 511-529.


Current Population Survey and Health and Retirement Study data indicated that rates of computer use were similar for all but the oldest workers, perhaps due to impending retirement. Computer users retired later than nonusers. Possible explanations are because they have valuable skills or because they already intend to dely retirement and thus acquire more computer skills.
KEY WORDS: Computer Use; Job Skills; Older Workers; Retirement; Technological Advancement.

Garavan, T. N., Morley, M., Gunnigle, P., & McGuire, D. (2002). Human resource development and workplace learning: Emerging theoretical perspectives and organisational practices. Journal of European Industrial Training, 26(2-4), 60-71.


Identifies a shift in workplace learning from formal, intermittent and discontinuous to informal, experiential, asynchronous, and situated. Highlights themes in both workplace learning and human resource development: knowledge, expertise, competence, organizational learning, and employability.
KEY WORDS: Competence; Employment Potential; Job Skills; Organizational Change.

Gingras, Y., & Roy, R. (2000). Is there a skill gap in Canada? Canadian Public Policy/Analyse de Politiques, 26, 159-174.


The increased employment of knowledge workers in the Canadian economy, combined with the growing number of employers reporting difficulties recruiting qualified employees, raises questions concerning the supply of skills in Canada. By drawing principally on an analysis of descriptive statistics, the authors conclude that there is no reason to believe that, globally, Canada is suffering from a broad-based shortage of skilled labor or that its workforce cannot fulfill the economy's needs. Examination of macroeconomic data reveals an increased frequency of specific labor shortages in certain sectors & occupations in recent years. Nonetheless, it does not appear that these shortages are more common today than they were in the past at similar stages of the business cycle. The authors conclude that, while there may be a growing labor shortage (skilled & low skilled), there is no aggregate shortage of skilled labor. Available data indicate that Canada compares favorably with many of its principal competitors in world markets, both in terms of investments in human capital & in the stock of skills. We investigate the minimum skill level necessary for success in the Canadian labor market. We conclude that, at the very least, young people today need a high school diploma to qualify for even the lowest-skill jobs.
KEY WORDS: Canada; Labor Supply; Work Skills; Human Capital; Employment Changes; Postindustrial Societies; Work and Learning.

Glenn, A., McGarrity, J. P., & Weller, J. (2001). Firm-specific human capital, job matching, and turnover: Evidence from major league baseball, 1900-1992. Economic Inquiry, 39(1), 86-93.


The two dominant labor market turnover hypotheses, the firm-specific human capital model (FSHCM) and the job-matching model, suggest different patterns of player mobility in major league baseball. The matching hypothesis predicts greater mobility of players in positions that require substantial production. A better match may offer large productivity gains. Alternately the FSHCM predicts players in positions requiring the greatest amount of team work will benefit from specific knowledge, making them less likely to change teams. We examine the frequency distribution of trades by player position from 1900-1992 and find the FSHCM provides the best explanation for turnover in this industry.
KEY WORDS: Hman Capital; Job Matching; Firm-specific Human Capita; Turnover.

Glover, D., Law, S., & Youngman, A. (2002). Graduateness and employability: Student perceptions of the personal outcomes of university education. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 7(3), 293-306.


Surveys of 408 British students at the beginning and 425 at the end of university studies explored tensions between "graduateness" (effect of college degrees on knowledge, skills, and attitudes) and employability. Evidence suggests economic motivations are more important than pursuit of knowledge and employability is an increasing expectation of higher education courses.
KEY WORDS: College Graduates; Degrees (Academic); Employment Potential; Foreign Countries; Higher Education; Job Skills; Outcomes of Education; Student Educational Objectives; Student Motivation.

Gottfredson, L. S. (2003). The challenge and promise of cognitive career assessment. Journal of Career Assessment, 11(2), 115-135.


Abilities are as important as interests in career choice and development. Reviving cognitive assessment in career counseling promises to help counselees better understand their career options and how to enhance their competitiveness for the ones they prefer. Nearly a century of research on human cognitive abilities and jobs’ aptitude demands in the U.S. economy reveals that the two domains are structured in essentially the same way. The author describes that common structure and how it can be used in assessing person-job match in terms of general ability level and ability profile. She also suggests ways of resolving various technical and professional questions, such as which cognitive abilities to assess, how to assess them, what the most useful aptitude-based occupational classification would be, and how to use cognitive assessments in a broader “reality-based exploration” process intended to expand people’s career opportunities.
KEY WORDS: Ability Level; Cognitive Ability; Occupational Aspirations; Occupational Guidance; Person Environment Fit; Career Development; Cognitive Assessment; Occupational Choice.

Green, F., S. McIntosh, S., & Vignoles, A. (1999). "Overeducation" and skills: Clarifying the concepts. London: Centre for Economic Performance.


There is now a burgeoning literature on the topic of 'overeducation' (and the complementary concept of 'undereducation'), and a growing quantity of UK empirical evidence on this issue. However, as Joop Hartog indicated in his keynote address to the Applied Econometrics Association, "a solid relation [of the overeducation/ undereducation literature] with a formal theory of the labour market is lacking" (Hartog, 1997). Furthermore, the term 'overeducation', in particular, is often used interchangeably with similar but distinct concepts such as 'qualification inflation'. This paper attempts to define and measure 'undereducation' and 'overeducation' more precisely, to quantify the extent of genuine skill and educational mismatch and to link these phenomena into the existing literature on skill-biased change and wage inequality. The authors provide new empirical evidence on this issue, using data from the International Adult Literacy survey, the recent UK Skills Survey, and the National Child Development Study. Specifically, they find convincing evidence of skill under-utilisation in the British labour market. For example, 20% of IALS respondents have reading and comprehension skills that appear to be under-utilised in their jobs. They also show that 'genuine' overeducation is a significant phenomenon in Britain. For instance, a new survey of graduates by the University of Newcastle suggests that just over 20% of recent graduates are genuinely 'overeducated' for their jobs. They discuss the policy and welfare implications of their findings.
KEY WORDS: Overeducation; Undereducation; Labour Market; Skill; Educational Mismatch; Skill Under-utilisation; Graduates; Policy; Welfare.

Green, F., & Zhu, Y. (2007). Overqualification, job dissatisfaction and increasing dispersion in the returns to graduate education. London: Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics.


This empirical study on overqualification, job dissatisfaction and returns to graduate education based on the analysis of the 1992 and the 2006 data series in Britain found increased dispersion in returns to education. The authors attribute the increasing dispersion of return to education to growing overqualification. Further analysis of overqualification based on levels of skill utilization shows that employees who experience "real overqualification" suffer greater pay penalties than employees who experience "formal overqualification". This study found that only "real overqualification" is associated with job dissatisfaction. The study also found that "formal overqualification" increased significantly during the 1992-2006 period and affects approximately a quarter of all graduates. According to this study, "real overqualification" increased less than "formal overqualification" and affected approximately ten per cent of graduates.
KEY WORDS: Job Satisfaction; Overeducation; Overqualification; Skill Utilisation; Pay; Returns to College Education; Returns to Graduate Education.

Groot, W., & Maassen van den Brink, H. (2000). Overeducation in the labor market: A meta-analysis. Economics of Education Review, 19(2), 149-158.


A meta-analysis of studies on overeducation and undereducation in the labor market reveals that of the four different definitions of overeducation distinguished in the literature, only the one based on variation in years of education within occupational groups appears to yield significantly lower-than-average rates of overeducation.
KEY WORDS: Education Work Relationship; Educational Attainment; Elementary Secondary Education; Foreign Countries; Higher Education; Labor Force; Labor Market; Meta Analysis; Salary Wage Differentials; Supply and Demand; Europe; Overeducation; Rate of Return; United States.

Handel, M. J. (2000). Trends in direct measures of job skill requirements. Working paper no. 301. New York: Jerome Levy Economics Institute. Retrieved on October 22, 2003 from http://www.levy.org/docs/wrkpap/papers/301.html.


Assumptions have been made that jobs in the United States require ever-greater levels of skill and that this trend is accelerating as a result of the diffusion of information technology. These assumptions have led to substantial concern over the possibility of a growing mismatch between the skills workers possess and the skills employers demand, reflected in debates over the need for education reform and the causes of the growth in earnings inequality. However, efforts to measure trends have been hampered by the lack of direct measures of job skill requirements. A study used previously unexamined measures from the Quality of Employment Surveys and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine trends in job education and training requirements and provide a validation tool for skill measures in the "Dictionary of Occupational Titles." Results indicate that job skill requirements have increased steadily over the 1970s-1990s but that there has been no acceleration in recent years that might explain the growth in earnings inequality. There is also no dramatic change in the number of workers who are undereducated. These results reinforce the conclusions of earlier work that reports of a growing skills mismatch are exaggerated and that the recent growth in the U.S. wage inequality may not be a result of a skills shortage.
KEY WORDS: Academic Achievement; Adults; Education Work Relationship; Educational Change; Educational Needs; Employment Patterns; Employment Projections; Employment Qualifications; Job Performance; Job Skills; Job Training; Salary Wage Differentials; Skill Development; Wages Dictionary of Occupational Titles; Income Disparities; Panel Study of Income Dynamics.

Handel, M. J. (2003). Skills mismatch in the labor market. Annual Review of Sociology, 29, 135-165.


Researchers across a wide range of fields, policymakers, & large segments of the public believe that the work-related skills of the labor force do not match the requirements of jobs & that this explains a large part of the growth of wage inequality in the US in the past 20 years. Opinions are divided on whether the trend is driven by workforce developments, such as an absolute decline or declining growth of human capital due to changes in educational attainment or test scores, or employer-side changes, such as accelerating growth of job skill requirements due to the spread of computers & employee involvement techniques. Some believe the problem has grown worse over time. However, the evidence is often more ambiguous & fragmentary than recognized, & the argument overlooks the roles of institutional changes & management's policies toward labor in workers' changing fortunes. Evidence suggests that the growth in educational attainment has decelerated, cognitive skill levels have remained stable, & job skill requirements have gradually increased, but a large portion of employer dissatisfaction relates to effort levels & work attitudes of young people that may represent transitory, life-cycle effects. There is little information on whether job demands are actually exceeding workers' capacities. The absence of a standardized, up-to-date method of collecting information on the actual skill content of jobs is a significant obstacle to answering this question with confidence.
KEY WORDS: Labor Force; Human Capital; United States of America; Work Skills; Work Attitudes; Work Orientations; Youth Employment; Employment Changes; Educational Attainment.

Handel, M. J. (2005). Worker skills and job requirements: Is there a mismatch? Washington: Economic Policy Institute.


There is a widespread belief that U.S. workers' education and skills are not adequate for the demands of jobs in the modern economy. Many believe that this presumed mismatch between the skills workers possess and the skills that jobs require will become even more serious as the workplace becomes increasingly high-tech and service-oriented. But many simple assumptions regarding skills mismatch in the U.S. labor market do not stand up well to closer examination. This article provides an overview of the skills mismatch debate, reviews research on skill levels, and scrutinizes trends in the skills workers possess, the skills employers demand, and the evidence for a mismatch between the two.
KEY WORDS: United States; New Economy; Job Skills; High Tech; Job Skills Mismatch.

Hartog, J. (2000). Over-education and earnings: Where are we, where should we go? Economics of Education Review, 19(2), 131-147.


Drawing on empirical studies from five countries (Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, United Kingdom, and United States), over 2 decades, outlines irregularities in the incidence of over- and under-education and consequences for individual earnings. The overall incidence of overeducation in the labor market is about 26 percent.
KEY WORDS: Comparative Education; Education Work Relationship; Educational Attainment; Elementary Secondary Education; Foreign Countries; Job Skills; Labor Market; Mathematical Models; Salary Wage Differentials; Sex Differences; Netherlands; Overeducation; Portugal; Spain; United Kingdom; United States.

Haunschild, A. (2003). Managing employment relationships in flexible labour markets: The case of German repertory theatres. Human Relations, 56(8), 899-929.


In theatres, 'new' forms of employment are rather old. Based on qualitative case study research, this article analyses policies for managing human resources in a German non-profit repertory theatre. Referring to Marsden's theory of employment systems, the article suggests regarding these policies as being embedded in an interorganizational employment system, which comprises rules of job design and task assignment, the labour market, inter-firm institutions and the education system. This employment system for German theatre artists is marked by high labour mobility and contingent work arrangements, but is also characterized by an ensemble structure providing (temporary) stability of the workforce. By studying how employment relationships are 'managed' in theatres and how the organizational level is linked to the field's labour market characteristics, this article aims at contributing to the exploration of institutional prerequisites and organizational consequences of contingent work arrangements. In doing so, the article continues recent efforts to link studies on careers, labour markets and work arrangements in the cultural industries to the 'future of work' debate.
KEY WORDS: Theatre Management; Labor Relations; Organizational Structure.

Hyslop-Margison, E. J., & Welsh, B. H. (2003). Career education and labour market conditions: The skills gap myth. Journal of Educational Thought/Revue de la Pensee Educative, 37(1), 5-22.


Asserts that it is a questionable claim that a widespread knowledge and skill shortage is causing current labour market supply problems, unemployment, or increased social stratification. Adds that the percentage of new jobs requiring high levels of knowledge and skill is limited when compared to low-skilled service industry occupations. Questions the foundations of career education.
KEY WORDS: Career Education; Education Work Relationship; Employment; Labor Force Development; Labor Market; Labor Needs; Skill Development; Two Year Colleges; Vocational Education.

Jackson, M. (2001). Non-meritocratic job requirements and the reproduction of class inequality: An investigation. Work, Employment and Society, 15(3), 619-630.


This article evaluates the presence or absence of the "Increased Merit Selection" (IMS) theory or meritocracy in society, as it relates to the employment process in order to distinguish whether this theory is valid in today's society, thus creating social mobility for individuals regardless of their social class. Through the analysis of a random sample of 322 job listings in national, regional, & local newspapers, it was found that "merit" in the form of qualifications, ability & effort, meritocratic characteristics, & experience & technical skills was predominate, yet ascriptive characteristics in the form of social skills & personal characteristics still made their way into these findings. Therefore, it seemed we still are unable to fully escape "where we come from" & "who we are" because it is just these characteristics that provide us with suitability for a job that another individual with more so-called achievements may not possess.
KEY WORDS: Meritocracy; Social Mobility; Social Class; Hiring Practices; Occupational Mobility; Job Requirements; Social Background.

Janssen, O. (2000). Job demands, perceptions of effort-reward fairness and innovative work behaviour. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 73(3), 287-302.


Building on person-environment fit theory and social exchange theory, the relationship between job demands and innovative work behaviour was assumed to be moderated by fairness perceptions of the ratio between effort spent and reward received at work. This interaction of job demands with perceptions of effort-reward fairness was tested among 170 non-management employees from a Dutch industrial organization in the food sector. Results demonstrated a positive relationship between job demands and innovative work behaviour when employees perceived effort-reward fairness rather than under-reward unfairness.
KEY WORDS: Employee Attitudes; Energy Expenditure; Null Hypothesis Testing; Organizational Behavior; Job Characteristics; Job Satisfaction; Justice; Person Environment Fit.

Jensen, L., & Slack, T. (2003). Underemployment in America: Measurement and evidence. American Journal of Community Psychology, 32(1-2), 21-31.


An important way in which employment hardship has come to be conceptualized & measured is as underemployment. Underemployment goes beyond mere unemployment (being out of a job & looking for work), to include those who have given up looking for work, part-time workers whose employer(s) cannot give them full-time work, & the working poor. To provide needed background for the other articles in this special issue, we trace the history of the concept of underemployment, review existing empirical literature, offer a critique of the measurement of underemployment as conventionally operationalized, & provide up-to-date evidence on the trends & correlates of underemployment in the US.
KEY WORDS: Underemployment; Measures (Instruments); Measurement; United States of America

Jones, R. T. (2003). What employers expect of education. Liberal Education, 89(2), 41-43.


Describes the expectations held by employers for graduates in a world of global competition and rapid change, and discusses why preparation for work and for higher education now require the same academic standards.
KEY WORDS: Academic Standards; College School Cooperation; Education Work Relationship; Educational Needs; Employer Attitudes; Employment Qualifications; Higher Education; Job Skills.

Kager, M. B. (2000). Factors that affect hiring: A study of age discrimination and hiring. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities & Social Sciences, 60(11-A), 4201.


This study examines the effect applicant age on the selection recommendations of human resource managers. An original, fractional, factorial survey design with a vignette format was used. This form of design allows the researcher to use a relatively large number of factors and levels within those factors to enhance the resemblance between the real and the experimental world. The, dimensions used in constructing the vignettes included: job requirements, personal characteristics and employment experience of the applicant, unemployment duration and previous, as well as, proposed salary levels. Seventy-eight levels were created within seventeen dimensions. The vignettes were designed to represent the interviewer's personal notes about twelve hypothetical candidates and to reflect information gathered in the pre-interview, interview and post interview phases of the hiring process. The survey was mailed to a random, national sample of 500 members of a national association of human resources managers. Two mailings produced a response rate of 24.5% (N = 118), and generated 1,416 vignette judgements. Respondents were seventy percent female, with thirty-five percent overall having ten or more years of experience as a human resource professional. Logistic regression analysis of the data found that twenty-five levels among the seventeen dimensions were significantly associated with selection decisions at the 5% level or below. Personality/Attitude and mode of dress had the strongest effects on selection recommendations. For example, candidates represented as "enthusiastic, energetic and eager" the odds of a favorable recommendation were increased by more than 400% over those who were "unresponsive and lacked eye contact." No significant effects of age, gender or race on selection recommendations were found. These findings suggest that when age discrimination in hiring occurs it is prior to or subsequent to interaction with experienced human resources management professionals. In addition, the findings suggest that for all applicants regardless of age, race or gender, the interviewer's selection decisions can be affected by factors largely within the applicant's control.
KEY WORDS: Age Differences; Age Discrimination; Personnel Selection.

Karakaya, G., Plasman, R., & Rycx, F. (2007). Overeducation on the Belgian labour market: Evaluation and analysis of the explanatory factors through two types of approaches. Compare: A Journal of Comparative Education, 37(4), 513-532.


This paper examines the incidence and determinants of overeducation in the Belgian private sector. Results support the idea that employers view labour market experience as a substitute for formal education. They also show that male workers and people employed in state-owned firms are less affected by overeducation. Further results suggest that the size of the establishment has a small negative impact on overeducation.

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