Mismatch between degree fields and occupation is a poor metric

Tags: Humanities Education

Mismatch between one's degree and their career field—called "horizontal mismatch"—is sometimes cited as a fault. This is particularly common in attacks on the value of degrees in the humanities.

  • See Mismatch between degree and occupation is not confined to the humanitiesMismatch between degree and occupation is not confined to the humanities
    Tags: [[Education]] [[Humanities]]

    There is periodically reports in the media bemoaning the fact that humanities graduates are unable to find jobs in their fields. Often this kind of data is used ...
    - Horizontal mismatch is common across many degrees

However, "horizontal mismatch" is a poor metric for the value of those degrees which are, by their nature, more general in their scope. It's natural that a degree in, say, medicine or engineering has less horizontal mismatch because those degrees tend to have been designed to prepare graduates for specific jobs. Degrees in language and literature, on the other hand, are not tailored for any job in particular.

As well, it is not clear that horizontal mismatch is actually a bad thing. Rather it may provide evidence that the skills acquired in the degree are highly transferable, preparing the graduate for a range of career options. This is actually a strength of the traditional liberal arts degree.


Salas-Valasco 2021