Robots, Resource Booms, and Baristas: Trying to Predict the Future Job Market for University Graduates

The media is full of stories of technological wizardry transforming the workplace. From robots to problem-solving software that can replace experts, technological change is reducing the demand for some workers while raising the demand for others. David Green, professor in the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC, lead a discussion about what this all means for the future prospects of university graduates during a recent lecture to UBC alumni. To listen to the full podcast, click here.

David provides some highlights of his research findings in these key questions and answers:

Is There Still a Place for University Graduates in the Job Market?

Until recently, we believed that these changes would imply continually growing demand for university graduates. However, research shows that demand for university graduates in jobs that require cognitive skills has been declining in the US since about 2000, and that something similar has been happening in the UK.

So What Does This Mean for University Graduates?

The result is that more university graduates have been “cascading” down through the occupation structure, ending up trapped in ‘barista type’ jobs. In Canada, the evidence on demand for university grads is more mixed, with the resource boom shifting our job market away from US trends.

Then Is It Worth Getting a University Degree?

Yes, it is still better to have a university degree than not.