The Occupational Context of Mismatch: Measuring the Link Between Occupations and Areas of Study to Better Understand Job-Worker Match

Alexandra Marin, Sean Hayes


Scholars have long been interested in the prevalence, causes, and consequences of workers being well matched or poorly matched to their jobs. When studying match along dimensions of education or skill, mismatch has been defined as a deficit or surplus in the level of skill or education, without necessary regard for the relevance of either. More recently researchers have moved beyond this deficit/surplus approach to studying mismatch to ask if workers’ skills or education are relevant to their jobs. In this article we argue that the next step for workers studying job-worker match is to consider the relevance of relevance. We argue in studying the relevance of workers’ education it is necessary to consider and measure the extent to which occupations draw broadly from across educational specialties or hire primarily from pools of workers trained in specific areas. The causes and consequences of not having relevant education will be different in occupations that are closely tied to particular fields of study than in those not linked to any field of study. To facilitate this research agenda we develop seven measures of the link between occupations and fields of study in the Canadian labour market. We test the validity and robustness of these measures. We discuss when each measure is most appropriate and provide an appendix listing values for the three best-performing measures, calculated for Statistics Canada 4-digit occupational codes.


Occupations; Mismatch; Fields of Study; Education

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