Unemployed people more likely to hold a degree in areas with low unemployment? Really? That makes Orkney and Shetland hotspots…

So, here’s a weird thing I discovered while browsing the 2001 census data for Scotland (as you do). I knew that Orkney and Shetland had some of the lowest unemployment levels in Scotland, but did you know that the proportion of unemployed people who hold a degree in Orkney and Shetland is among the highest in Scotland? In fact 16.43% of unemployed people in Orkney held a degree (or equivalent qualification) – the third highest rate in Scotland (behind the City of Edinburgh and East Dunbartonshire) and significantly higher than the Scottish average of 10.46%.

This piqued my interest.

Since then I’ve done a bit of further digging into the statistics, and discovered that 9 out of 10 of the local authority areas with the highest proportions of graduates in their unemployed population are also among the ten areas with the lowest unemployment rates. So, where Orkney had an unemployment rate of 3.02%, 16.43% of unemployed people held a degree or equivalent, towards the other end of the scale Arran had an unemployment level of 5.75% and 6.58% of unemployed people had a degree or equivalent (the Scottish averages are 3.97% and 10.46% respectively).Image

I suspect there may be something more behind the data that I will have to dig into. But at the moment it seems if employment levels are high then graduates are more likely to be unemployed than non-graduates. Which leaves me wondering about the dynamics of the labour market and why this might be. It also makes me wonder whether the perception of graduates is different between, say, areas where there are relatively fewer unemployed people but where relatively more of these hold degrees, and areas where there are relatively more unemployed people and relatively fewer unemployed people with degrees…. Something to think on… Anyone else have any thoughts….?


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