According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), more than 935 million workers in the world have jobs that don’t match their educational level: 72% of them (677 million) are under-educated for their jobs, while the remaining 28% (258 million) are over-educated. This new data covers 114 countries, which means that the actual global figures are probably much higher.
ILO now has data on the mismatch between workers’ level of education and the expected level of education for each job (based on the job’s occupational group) for 114 countries from all regions and income levels. In 46% of those countries, over half of all workers have jobs that don’t match their educational level. This means that mismatch by educational level is a big issue, and it is widespread.
Under-education is more common and more serious in low-income countries than elsewhere, while over-education is more prevalent in high-income countries. The ten countries with the highest share of workers in mismatch by educational level are all either low income or lower-middle income.
In all countries there are workers who are under-educated and workers who are over-educated for the jobs they hold. However, in the majority (74%) of countries with data, the share of under-educated workers is higher than that of over-educated workers. What is more, under-education is clearly an issue in developing countries (although not exclusively). In all the low-income countries with data, under-education is more prevalent than over-education. However, this is true in only half of high-income countries with data.
The difficulty of finding a job matching one’s educational level concerns both women and men. There doesn’t seem to be a strong gender bias in workers’ mismatch by educational level globally. Nonetheless, in low-income countries, mismatch by educational level does affect women more than men. Indeed, in all low-income countries with data but one (Rwanda), the share of workers in mismatch by educational level is larger for women than for men.
In short, in low-income countries, employment is concentrated in low-skilled occupations requiring a lesser level of education and workers are more likely to be under-educated for their jobs. Conversely, in high-income countries, employment is concentrated more in occupations requiring higher skill levels, and workers’ under-education is less common. Actually, in high-income countries almost all workers in low-skilled jobs are over-educated.