Almost half of workers are mismatched to their jobs

Overskilled employees risk poor job satisfaction and lower productivity, CIPD finds

Almost half (49 per cent) of UK workers are in jobs they are either under- or over-skilled for, research published by the CIPD has today revealed. 

The Over-skilled and Underused: Investigating the untapped potential of UK skills report found more than a third (37 per cent) of workers have skills which would enable them to cope with more demanding duties than their role requires. 

Conversely, of the 3,700 UK employees surveyed one in 10 (12 per cent) reported they lacked some of the skills needed to carry out their job effectively.

Lizzie Crowley, skills advisor at the CIPD, said making sure employees’ skills were well-matched to their roles was vital for tackling the UK’s productivity crisis. 

“Individuals who report using their skills fully in the workplace have higher levels of job satisfaction, earn more and are more resilient to change, while businesses benefit from a more productive workforce and increased profitability,” she said.

The survey found being unable to use skills effectively at work is linked to poorer job satisfaction, lower earnings and worse career progression prospects. Just 53 per cent of over-skilled workers said they were satisfied with their jobs compared to 74 per cent of people whose skills were better suited to their role.

Stephen Bevan, director of employment research and consultancy at the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), stressed the importance of recognising that employees want a role which is a good match for their current skills but has “a little ‘stretch’ included too”.

“A less obvious consequence of being ‘over-skilled’ for your job is an elevated risk of depression, especially if you are in a job with little control or autonomy and if you feel that you can contribute much more than the scope of your job allows,” he added.

The CIPD research also found a quarter (24 per cent) of workers had not received any training in the past year. Older workers, low-wage workers, part-time workers and those who are self-employed were most likely not to have received training. Over a quarter (26 per cent) of workers surveyed reported a lack of opportunities was the biggest barrier to their career progression.

Crowley added employers needed to focus more on how to use their existing employees’ skills through better people management practices and more development opportunities. 

“For too long, skills policy in the UK has been fixated on increasing the supply of skills coming into the labour market. This has failed as an approach,” she said.

The study called on employers to invest in formal training for line managers to enable them to better support their reports’ development.

A nationwide government survey published in August revealed the number of UK workers who were overqualified for their job was around 2.5 million – 8.7 per cent of the workforce. Meanwhile, 1.27 million workers – or 4.4 per cent of the UK’s workforce – were identified as not having the complete set of skills they needed for their job.