Overqualification and job satisfaction: the study

Overqualified employees are less satisfied with their work and more likely to look elsewhere, according to a study from Statistics Canada. 

Based on data from the Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) and on statements by employees about their degree level compared to the position they hold, Statistics Canada has published a study showing the link between overqualification and job satisfaction.

Foreigners most overqualified

12% of Canadians aged 25 to 64 with a university degree said they held an overqualified job in 2012, a position which would have been possible to perform with a high school diploma. The proportion varies with certain criteria, rising to 27%, for example, for workers born abroad, compared to 8% for those born in Canada. Out of all university graduates, 19% said they had to complete a college education to accomplish their duties, and 69% said their level of qualification was appropriate since their job required university studies. Of those overqualified, only 25% had tasks related to ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) to carry out each week, compared to 55% of the others, proving that those with a job that requires a university degree seem to perform more work activities that those who are overqualified.

Overqualified people less satisfied… And less productive!

The study notes that workers who are overqualified with higher skill levels could, in theory, hold jobs that require higher skills and so represent a shortfall for the Canadian economy, with their potential underused. However, although their situation can be explained by labour market inefficiencies, it is also possible that for them it is a personal choice, with some preferring a less-stressful job, for example. Still, overall employees who are overqualified can be less satisfied with their work – 13% of them, compared to only 3% of workers who believe that their degree is appropriate for their job. And when they are dissatisfied, overqualified people tend to be less productive, or look for a new job more in line with their degree and skill level. 

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