Office workers walk between office buildings in London, U.K. (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg)

One in Six British Workers Have Too Much Education for Their Job

(Bloomberg) -- Millions of British workers are overqualified for their jobs, according to figures published Monday.

Sixteen percent of 16-to-64-year-olds in employment had more education than required for their role in 2017, the Office for National Statistics said. It estimated overeducation among graduates at 31 percent.

One in Six British Workers Have Too Much Education for Their Job

The figures raise questions about the extent of under-used talent in a labor market where employment is at record levels. Overeducation represents a cost to taxpayers and individuals, and has been cited as a reason for Britain’s poor productivity performance.

“Overeducation is a form of resource under-utilization, which may have implications for the individual, firm and the economy,” the ONS said. “It can also be seen as a form of underemployment, hence contributing to the extent of labor market slack.”

The mismatch is now highest among 35-to-49-year-olds, suggesting the phenomenon is becoming more persistent. Previously, it was much higher among people age between 25 and 34, as younger people prized getting into a job and earning experience that paid dividends later.

London had the highest proportion of overeducated workers at around 25 percent. That possibly reflects higher rates of immigration, as many foreign nationals come to the U.K. to improve their English and are therefore willing to take lower-skilled work, the ONS said.

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