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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The underemployment of B.C. college graduates Cram, Daniel William


Underemployment is a much discussed but little researched topic. The thesis begins with a broad discussion of the theory and methodology underlying the recent research on underemployment. It then proceeds to a quantitative analysis of underemployment using data from the 1995 follow-up of B.C. college leavers from vocational, technical and two-year academic university transfer programs. The study finds that, overall, one third of B.C. college leavers were employed in jobs that did not require the level of education that they had attained. As expected, there were significant differences by field of study and subsequent occupation. The rate of underemployment among students from academic programs was eight times the rate of underemployment for students from vocational programs and twice that of students from career/technical programs. Additionally, almost a third of all college leavers were employed in Sales and Service occupations and roughly two-thirds of those were underemployed. Labour market segmentation theory provides the most useful theoretical explanation for these findings. The markedly uneven rates of underemployment experienced by college leavers in the core and peripheral sectors support the labour market segmentation perspective. In conclusion, underemployment is a useful, though limited construct. Such a measure should only be used in conjunction with other measures of employment outcomes like unemployment, salary and full/part-time employment status.

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