Recent evidence suggests that in the UK, for example, a record number of university graduates—one in four—face only a choice between unemployment and taking a job that does not require a degree. This shows that their degrees are not demanded on the market or, alternatively, that young people are malinvesting high student loans into degrees which, once obtained, will not offer them better employment alternatives than before—thus having a rate of return too low to justify the initial investment. Similarly, an investigation by The Economist has revealed that worldwide, BAs, BSCs, but also master programs such as MBAs are no longer considered to offer a candidate a competitive edge in the marketplace.Government jobs may well be drying up under the change of regime going on worldwide. What's that leave? Self-employment. Do good while doing well, repair the world economy!
Another facet of the devaluation of higher education is the record high number of specialised degrees, a trend which began with masters and MBAs, but has now peaked into PhDs.The mismatch between supply and demand (academic positions) is even wider in this case. A 2013 paper published in Nature Biotechnology has found that “Each year, there are seven times more PhDs awarded in science and engineering than there are newly available faculty positions.” In fact, the authors show that
Since 1982, almost 800,000 PhDs were awarded in science and engineering (S&E) fields, whereas only about 100,000 academic faculty positions were created in those fields within the same time frame. The number of S&E PhDs awarded annually has also increased over this time frame, from ~19,000 in 1982 to ~36,000 in 2011. The number of faculty positions created each year, however, has not changed, with roughly 3,000 new positions created annually.
A part of these graduates, especially in economics, end up working for the government when they eventually fail the market test. But the trend is also extending further to postdoctoral fellowships, which are sought after by the 70% of PhDs unable to find alternative employment.
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