Higher education leads to high unemployment? Truth or a Myth

Is it true that higher education leads to high unemployment?? Read article on Higher Education leads to high unemployment? Truth or a Myth at in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's latest labour force data, for the 2nd quarter of 2011, released in December 2012, showed that the historically low unemployment figure of 4.2% reported in the 1st quarter of 2011, was sustained in the 2nd quarter. About 7.9 million people are estimated to have been employed in the 2nd quarter of 2011.

However, the trend of unemployment increasing, with higher levels of education, could still be seen. The latest employment data shows that unemployment is highest among people with the highest level of school qualification (the Advanced Level qualification) and above (those with degrees and higher qualifications).

  • Unemployment was lowest, at 2.7%, among the lowest level of educational qualification, which is the level of education below the Ordinary Level certificate.
  • Unemployment among people holding the Ordinary Level certificate was slightly higher at 5.8%.
  • The highest unemployment rate of 7.8% was among men and women who are educated up to the Advanced Level qualification and above. Unemployment among this more educated group was reported as 4.4% for men and 11.6% for women. This shows that unemployment is more acute among educated women than among men.

Higher unemployment among the educated, is attributed to a skills mismatch between labour market requirements and the education system. While Sri Lankan universities produce large numbers of Arts graduates, businesses feel these graduates are not suitable for employment.

Another reason for higher unemployment among the more educated is because this category waits for "suitable" employments and is unwilling to accept jobs they feel are not suitable for their level of qualification (Whereas the less educated will take on even labourer jobs and blue collar jobs). In some cases technical employments may be seen as unsuitable due to lower social status and many families prefer their children to have a university education instead of a technical education in the hope of securing a white collar job. As a result, Sri Lanka has thousands of unemployed graduates.

There is also a preference for government sector employment over private sector jobs, as government jobs are seen as more beneficial and stable due to government pensions and other perks. As a result, some graduates do not apply for private sector jobs even when there are openings, opting to wait for a opening in a government department, instead.

Youth and female unemployment

Labour market data also continued to show high youth unemployment. Youth unemployment was highest among the age group of 15 to 24 years, for both men (14.4%) and women (26.1). In all age groups unemployment was higher among women than men. Overall unemployment among women was 7.0% compared to the much lower 2.7% among men.

The male participation rate in the labour force was about 66.4% compared to 33.1% female participation. The highest male participation rate (95.4%) was reported from the age group of 30 to 34 years, while among women the highest labour force participation rate (50.2%) was reported at the much older age group of 40 to 44 years.

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