Vertical mismatch, also known as level of education mismatch, occurs when the level of education of the person in employment does not correspond to the level of education required to perform one’s job (International Labour Office, 2018). Thus, a person can be:
- Over-educated when his/her level of education and training in employment is higher than that required to perform one’s job.
- Under-educated when his/her level of education and training in employment is lower than that required to perform one’s job (Eurostat, 2021).
There may be several reasons for vertical skills mismatch. Generally, if no suitable employee is available to hire at the time of an existing vacancy, the employer settles for a person who is under-educated, or the person who is hired settles for the position despite being over-educated (Kriechel & Vetter, 2019).
Figures from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) indicated that more than half of the employed population in Malta (54.3 per cent) experienced a vertical mismatch. The majority of these workers were over-educated for their job (35.1 per cent), while a further 19.3 per cent were under-educated.
Chart 1. Level of education mismatch in Malta
Vertical mismatch by sex, age and citizenship
In 2021 females tended to be more over-educated (39.9 per cent) when compared to their male counterparts (31.7 per cent). The Chart below illustrates the level of education mismatch by sex.
Chart 2: Level of education mismatch by sex
The proportion of persons over-educated for their job decreases with age. In fact, 39.2 per cent of persons between 15 and 34 years were over-educated, decreasing to 36.0 per cent of persons between 35 and 54 years and 20.3 per cent of persons who were 55 years and over. This is illustrated in chart 3.
Chart 3. Level of education mismatch by sex and age group
Differences in vertical mismatch were also seen between Maltese and foreign workers. Foreign workers were more likely to be over-educated for their job (43.4 per cent) when compared to Maltese workers (32.0 per cent).
Chart 4a. Level of education mismatch for Maltese
Chart 4b. Level of education mismatch for migrants
Vertical mismatch by employment characteristics
Level of education mismatch tended to be more prevalent in certain occupation groups and economic activities.
Service and sales workers (59.7 per cent) and craft and related trade workers (36.8 per cent) had a higher share of over-educated workers (39.0 per cent). Conversely, managers (54.4 per cent) and professionals (27.8 per cent) were more likely to be under-educated for their job.
Chart 5a. Level of education mismatch by occupation in main job
Chart 5b. Level of education mismatch by occupation in main job
The highest share of persons who were over-educated in their job worked in public administration, defence, education, human health, and social work activities (41.4 per cent) followed by the other services sector (37.7 per cent).
On the other hand, persons who worked in information and communication (25.4 per cent) and in manufacturing, mining and quarrying and other industry (22.9 per cent) had higher shares of workers who were under-educated for the job.
Chart 6a. Level of education mismatch by economic activity in main job
Chart 6b. Level of education mismatch by economic activity in main job
Over-qualification rate in Malta 2021
Over-qualified workers are defined as employed persons who have attained tertiary education and who work in occupations for which this level of education is not required. The over-qualification rate in Malta has increased over the years, from 12.4 per cent in 2012 to 20.2 per cent in 2021.
(b) break in time series
The over-qualification rate of females was 10.3 percentage points higher than their male counterparts, thus implying that more females with a tertiary qualification were working in occupations where this level of education was not required.
A difference was also evident between Maltese and foreign workers, where the share of foreign workers who were over-qualified for their job was 19.6 percentage points higher than their Maltese counterparts (33.4 per cent and13.4 per cent respectively).
Over-qualification rate across EU-27 countries (2020)
In 2020, the over-qualification rate for Malta stood at 17.4 per cent, 4.1 percentage points lower than the EU-27 average, thus ranking the 14th out of all European countries. The lowest rate was recorded in Luxembourg (3.9 per cent) followed by Denmark and Croatia (13.4 per cent). The highest rate was recorded in Spain (35.8 per cent) followed by Cyprus (33.2 per cent) and Greece (30.2 per cent).
Chart 8. Over-qualification rate across European countries: 2020
Eurostat. (2021). Skills mismatch experimental indicators: Methodological note. Luxembourg: Eurostat. Retrieved 2022, from https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/experimental-statistics/skills
International Labour Office. (2018). Measurement of qualifications and skills mismatches of persons in employment. Geneva: International Labour Office.
Kriechel , B., & Vetter, T. (2019). Skills mismatch measurement in ETF partner countries. Turin, Italy: European Training Foundation. doi:10.2816/664496