Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Education and labour markets

Bill Kaye-Blake writes In praise of liberal arts:
One of the issues we examined was ‘mismatch’. With the NZ data, there wasn’t much we could do. There just isn’t enough information on what happens to students after they leave tertiary education. I know that the pay-off to a liberal arts education for me was a long time coming — it isn’t enough to follow people for two years or five years. To cite our conclusion:
Finally, mismatches between employment and field of study and/or qualification level are often cited as a possible driver of low returns. There is little evidence that observed mismatches are in fact mismatches at all. However, if persistent mismatching is going on due to policy or market failures, this could be having a significant impact on returns. Whether that is the case or not is an open question.
Mismatch actually refers to two separate things. One is qualification mismatch — people getting Bachelor’s degrees when employers really want trade qualifications. The second is subject-matter mismatch — university students studying French literature when employers want computer science grads.
But if there is a mismatch in either sense, isn't the real question, What are prices not adjusting? If there is an excess demand (supply) for a particular qualification/skill why are wages not increasing (decreasing)? Thus is the problem got more to do with labour markets, and their regulation, than it has to do with education as such?

No comments: