University degrees outpacing potential jobs

A recent study shows that Denmark is producing more scholars than the labour market can absorb

The public coffers will take an 8.5 billion kroner hit over the next ten years due to the high number of newly graduated students who will file directly into the unemployment queue, Information newspaper reported this weekend. 


According to a study carried out by Arbejderbevægelsens Erhvervsråd, unemployment figures among recent master's graduates are dire, with 26 percent facing unemployment upon finishing their studies. Those lost potential wages add up to a massive reduction to the public purse.


And finding a way to fill the increasing gap between the number of degrees obtained and the job positions available is no easy feat.


READ MORE: Too many smart people, not enough jobs


"For all of the newly graduated to have a job, we would need to see 6,000 more jobs within the private sector each year," Bjarne Lundager, a spokesperson for the education and research think-tank DEA, told Information.


In addition, the government's goal of having one fourth of Denmark's youth complete a higher education by 2020 continues to worry experts. Niels Rosendal Jensen, a professor at Aarhus University's Department of Education, thinks such a large number of candidates will prove to be a bite too big for the job market to swallow. 


"If we look at it purely from a labour market perspective, as in whether or not there will be enough room for that number of candidates to join the workforce, then the answer is presumably no," Jensen told Information.


The minister for research and higher education, Morten Østergaard (Radikale), acknowledged that the current situation is problematic, but said that he sees the future state of the labour market in a positive light. 


"Arbejderbevægelsens Erhvervsråd has also provided a projection that shows an eventual shortage of 100,000 scholars," Østergaard told Information. "Through the course of the economic crisis, it has primarily been the skilled and unskilled jobs that have disappeared, but we have created more jobs for the highly educated. That says something about the state of the future labour market and its demands."


Østergaard's optimism isn't shared by Lundager, however. He told Information that he fears Denmark is creating an "academic proletariat".


"There will be many for whom a university education isn't necessarily a guarantee for anything at all," he said. 

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