How useful is the concept of skills mismatch?

May 6, 2017

Authors: Seamus McGuinness , Konstantinos Pouliakas , Paul Redmond

The term skill mismatch is very broad and can relate to many forms of labour market friction, including vertical mismatch, skill gaps, skill shortages, field of study (horizontal) mismatch and skill obsolescence.

In this paper the authors provide a clear overview of each concept and discuss the measurement and inter-relatedness of different forms of mismatch. They present a comprehensive analysis of the current position of the literature on skills mismatch and highlight areas which are relatively underdeveloped and may warrant further research.

Using data from the European Skills and Jobs Survey, they examine in detail the incidence of various combinations of skills mismatch across the EU and review the European Commission’s country specific recommendations and find that skills mismatch, when referring to underutilised human capital in the form of overeducation and skills underutilisation, receives little policy attention.

They argue that in cases where skills mismatch are specifically addressed by policy recommendations, the policy advice is either vague or addresses the areas of mismatch for which there is the least available evidence.

  • Publication Details

    Research Area: Labour Markets and Skills
    Date of Publication: May 6, 2017
    Publisher: International Labour Organization
    Place of Publication: Geneva
    ISBN: 978-92-2-130872-0 (print) | 978-92-2-130877-5 (web pdf)
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