Graduate and post-graduate unemployment

Other Names:
Chronically unemployed university graduates
Unemployed intellectuals
Professional unemployment
Graduate glut

A university education creates very high employment expectations. In some countries, a university degree may be looked upon almost as a guarantee of a soft and secure job in the government service, and in most it is assumed to be a membership card of the elite class. But, even in rapidly modernizing countries, the purely administrative jobs in the government service become filled fairly rapidly: for example, the demand for lawyers is certainly not as great as the demand for technically trained personnel. And in those societies where large enterprises are owned and managed by members of family dynasties, even the opportunities for professionally trained engineers and technicians may be limited, at least in the early stages of development.


[Developing countries] In many developing countries there appear to be too many lawyers or too many arts graduates, and there may also be instances of unemployed or underemployed engineers, scientists, economists, and even agronomists. The unused intellectual, however, is sometimes unemployed because he is unwilling to accept work which he considers beneath his educational level.



This unemployment of intellectuals occurs or increases when the education available is not oriented towards the types of employment or service required by the true needs of society, or when there is less demand for work which requires education, at least professional education, than for manual labour, or when it is less well paid. (Papal Encyclical, Laborem Exercens, 14 September 1981).

Narrower Problems:
Unvalued diplomas
Related Problems:
Student debt
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
Date of last update
22.05.2019 – 15:53 CEST