Are your staff overqualified?

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More than half of Australia’s retail workers are overqualified for their current job, with qualifications that are either unnecessary or make them no better at their job, a study has found.

SkillsIQ’s ‘Right Skills. Right Time?’ report shows 2.5 million Australian workers spend time and money on qualifications not needed for their current role, at a cost of $4.1 billion a year.

A national not-for-profit organisation, SkillsIQ works closely with industry to develop standards to ensure Australians have the appropriate skills for jobs now and into the future. Its report measures the gap between required and actual skills (through qualifications) of 10 million Australian workers across 400 people-facing occupations.

“In more than half of the people-facing sectors we looked at, anywhere between one in three and more than half of the workers had qualifications they didn’t need and which often failed to deliver the necessary practical skills,” SkillsIQ CEO Yasmin King said.

“This overqualification costs Australians $3.6 billion annually in foregone income due to time spent in unnecessary study and $555 million in superfluous tuition fees – that’s a total cost of $4.1 billion each year.”

Ms King says the retail sector has the highest level of skills mismatch, with more than half of all workers overqualified.

“Across the entire economy, the number of jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree has increased 41 per cent over the past two years as, all too often, employers mistakenly think this provides the best filtering of candidates,” she said. “As a result, right now, one in 13 Australian workers possess a bachelor’s degree that they don’t need for their current role.

“We as a community need to find a better balance between being ‘skills ready’ for work and getting the right qualifications at the right time for career development, as well as having a proper look at what the most appropriate qualifications are for the job.”

According to SkillsIQ, four in five parents want their children to go to university rather than undertake vocational education, yet nine out of the 10 jobs forecast to have the greatest growth in the next five years can be achieved through vocational and educational training courses.

“This isn’t about avoiding higher qualifications; it’s more about making sure you’re getting the right qualifications at the right time in your career,” Ms King said. “It’s also a question of whether higher qualifications are what will give you the skills and career progression you’re looking for.”

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