If you can’t get a job in your own field, should you take a job that does not match your qualifications like a pizza baker or cab driver?
This is the fundamental question that many academics face as they enter the labour market in the midst of the economic recession.
Mikkel Mailand is head of research at the University of Copenhagen’s Employment Relations Research Centre. According to him, there are a handful of sensible arguments both for, and against, academics taking unskilled jobs. We use the term ‘unskilled job’ for any job that does not match your academic qualifications.
For and against
Some arguments relate to the here and now, others to the long run. So here they are. Mailand’s five best points from each side of the fence:
The 'pro' arguments. Why you should take an unskilled job
1. An unskilled job is better than no job at all. Taking an unskilled job will keep you active. On a personal level it will keep you from isolating yourself at home. In a broader perspective you will contribute more to society by taking any job and not receiving money from the state.
2. Even though an unskilled job will not allow you to use all the skills you have gained from your time in academia, you will still be using some of your general academic skills and abilities in some work situations.
3. An unskilled job will give you practical experience and abilities that you otherwise would not get.
4. An unskilled job can expand your network and your social interaction with others. This interaction you would not experience as an unemployed person.
5. The majority of unskilled jobs will, if you work full-time, give you a better pay check than the one you receive from unemployment benefit.
The 'con' arguments: Why you should not take an unskilled job
6. Taking an unskilled job, the majority of your academic skills will be lost in the long run. Society will have wasted a lot of money educating you, if you do not use your skills from university at work.
7. A full-time unskilled job will not leave you with enough time to simultaneously search and apply for skilled jobs.
8. Taking an unskilled job as an academic you are in effect stealing jobs from less educated individuals. For society this can be a severe problem since there will be less unskilled jobs for people with no other options.
9. An unskilled job will most likely not pay you the minimum wage of an academic position.
10. An unskilled job will not give you a sufficient network when it comes to finding skilled jobs in the future. Chances are you will only be promoted to other unskilled jobs through these networks.
Stay in the know about news and events happening in Copenhagen by signing up for the University Post’s weekly newsletter here.