IE Center for the Governance of Change
Higher education and the future of work

University training and the labor market

The Center for the Governance of Change of the IE Business School has released a report in which it compares the university training (more than 500,000 degree programs) with the labor demand (more than 13 million job offers) in the United Kingdom, Spain and Denmark. According to the report some universities are up to eight times better aligned with labor markets than others, which could explain some inefficiencies in the labor markets and makes necessary a better matching of the university skills to the national job markets, even more in the current environment of economy digitalization.

According to the report, job skills are changing dramatically, "depending on the sector, between 10–50% of jobs require different skills than those required for the same positions 10 years ago". For this reason, it is necessary to align the skills provided in universities with the new needs of a more digital and automated economy, in which new jobs appear and others disappear or change and require different skills.

The conclusions of the analysis show how the curricular plan of some universities (generally with less than 50 years of history and private) would be up to 8 times more aligned with the skills requested in job offers than that of others, “placing some students at a significant disadvantage” when it comes to finding employment and would also explain "why there are highly paid jobs that are in high demand but go unfilled”.

The report offers a number of notable insights and data:

  • Up to a third of college graduates in countries like Italy or Greece are unemployed (Eurostat 2019). This figure compares with 7% in the US.
  • 41% of executives in Spain in 2020 declared that they were having trouble finding talent to fill vacancies, the highest share recorded over the last decade of surveys (this figure would be 69% in the US, 52% in Mexico or 47% in Italy).
  • Emerging professions reflect the continuing importance of human interaction in the new economy, such as communication, project management, teamwork, customer care, or problem solving, all of them not directly related to any particular discipline.

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