How useful is the concept of skills mismatch?
This paper was prepared as a background note for the International Conference on Jobs and Skills Mismatch to be held in Geneva on May 11-12, 2017.
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 it is 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.