Currently, one in three people between the ages of 25 and 34 in Spain has university studies (40% of women and 26% of men), a proportion that is growing over time. This growth is necessary, since the automation of processes and the digital revolution are causing sudden changes in the labor market that, although they pose risks, also offer particularly interesting opportunities to the group of more qualified people.
In a recent study by the ISEAK Foundation we reflected on the employment situation of the university group, trying to understand to what extent this type of study in general guarantees in itself a more decent job future or, on the contrary, the field of specialization is important for that job future. Of course, when choosing a university specialty, preferences about what to study must be taken into account, but it is also convenient to take into account the possibilities that the labor market offers for each of the options. In this sense, in the study we try to understand where this labor future is going based on the trends that are observed on the composition of the jobs of this group.
The most common jobs accessed by the university community are concentrated in the category of scientific and intellectual professionals. This group is largely made up of primary and preschool teachers, secondary school teachers, and nursing professionals. In total, these professions represent 5% of employment in Spain, a weight that has remained stable in the last two decades. A second group to be highlighted in this category is made up of professions such as specialists in the social sciences, specialists in administration organization, professionals in law or doctors, who not only absorb a very relevant part of employment (4.5%), but its weight in total employment has doubled in the last 20 years. Finally, there is another group of professions—such as engineers, finance specialists, database and computer network specialists or developers, and data analysts. software and multimedia—which offer employment to a smaller number of people (3%), but whose weight has risen in recent years. Among the occupations that have grown the most, those of mathematics, actuaries and statistics stand out for having multiplied their level of employment by 10 since 1997.
However, there are many young people who, five years after finishing their degree, state that they do not use the content of the studies in their current job. This is what is called dislocated employment and it is the second question that we address in the study. In particular, the degrees in the humanities (History, Philosophy, etc.) and social sciences (Politics, International Relations, Sociology, Geography, Anthropology…) show the least fit, with a probability of only 50% of making use of your studies at work. On the contrary, almost all the people who study Nursing, Medicine, Computer Science or Veterinary Medicine find a suitable job.
The third question we address refers to the quality of employment of the different university specializations. Job stability, so demanded and needed by youth, is one of the indicators that define a “good job”. In this sense, the study analyzes the stability of jobs after five years of having started the labor stage and shows that the fields of Computer Science, Law, Business Administration and Management and Economics offer jobs with greater stability, since, on average, 82%-87% of people have a stable contract. In contrast, other fields such as Nursing carry a high proportion of temporary contracts, affecting 6 out of 10 people. Youth specializing in the environment, life sciences (Biology, Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Biomedicine) or chemical, physical and geological sciences also suffer from this type of precariousness, with a temporality of more than 50%.
Lastly, the study deals with another important indicator of the quality of employment for the university community: salaries five years after graduation. In this sense, the worst positioned titles would be Psychology, Physical Activity and Sports, Environmental Sciences or Journalism, where two out of three graduates earn less than 1,500 euros per month after five years. On the contrary, Medicine is the career that offers the highest remuneration, since the probability of earning wages of more than 2,000 euros per month is greater than 80%.
In short, the lack of job opportunities in certain fields in which one has been trained can be very frustrating on a personal level and represents a great inefficiency in the use of own and public resources. For this reason, although when choosing what to study it is important to select an option that offers a job opportunity related to the interests of each person, it is essential to have information that helps to decide when making such a decision. The job placement survey of university graduates —prepared by the INE and on which our study is based— is a clear example of the potential of public data to guide academic and employment decisions. Even so, its scope is still limited and, therefore, it is necessary to demand greater use and dissemination of this type of information in order to guarantee that young people make these decisions in the most well-founded way possible, since these will determine, to a large extent, , what their future work holds.
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