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Skills Mismatch - Full Results

All the details behind our Skills Alignment Score (SAS)

The Skills Alignment Score is an innovative index that measures the mismatch between majors and labor demand on a scale of 0 to 1, using Lightcast data. Zero indicates that a major is completely misaligned with the skills demanded in jobs for graduates of that major while 1 indicates that the major is completely aligned. The index is based on 1.4 million social profiles and 10.8 millions of postings. 

Below you’ll find a series of charts and graphs detailing the match and mismatch we've tabulated using our Skills Alignment Score and our methodology.

Skills Alignment Score for Different Majors

The below graph shows SAS for all majors with sufficient sample size. Visual and Performing Arts had the highest SAS of 0.89. The top five occupations for Visual and Performing Arts graduates include a number of jobs that include specific software and content specific skills including Graphic Designer / Desktop Publisher, Interior Designer, and Art Director. On the other hand, History has the lowest SAS of 0.27, due in part to the fact that the top occupations for History graduates include teaching positions and Project Manager.

Mapping Majors to Jobs

The SAS can also be calculated across majors to see if certain majors appear to be teaching the skills typically required for graduates in another field. Hovering over the graph or selecting a major from the “Graduate Selection” drop down will show the SAS between graduates of that major and the skills demanded in the most common occupations for each field. For example, the SAS for Architecture (Emp) vs. Visual and Performing Arts (Grad) is 0.63, which means that the skills supplied by graduates from Visual and Performing Arts programs are pretty well aligned with the skills demanded in the most common occupations for Architecture majors. 

The Geography of Skills Matching

Since data from both career profiles and job postings can be broken out by specific regions, we can also calculate how well taught skills and requested skills align based on geography. For example, we can see how well journalism students from Missouri are prepared for typical journalism jobs in-state and compare that to journalism students and workers in Illinois. The below visualization allows the user to view the SAS across different states and majors.

Misalignment and Underemployment

One of the greatest threats to that success is underemployment—that is, having earned a bachelor’s degree but working in a role that does not require one. Those who are underemployed in their first job are five times more likely to be underemployed five years later as compared to their counterparts. Even at the 10-year mark, three-quarters of workers who were underemployed at year five remained underemployed. By contrast, those who have a first job appropriate to their background almost never fall into underemployment.

The Skills Alignment Score is negatively correlated with underemployment, meaning that the more aligned a major is, the less likely it is that graduates from that major will be underemployed. The average major has a Skills Alignment Score of 0.51. Moving to a major that is 20% more aligned with the labor market leads to graduates who are 10% less likely to be underemployed.

SAS Methodology

The Skills Alignment Score (SAS) is a metric created by Lightcast that shows the degree of similarity between the skills that schools are teaching and the skills that are requested in relevant job postings. We narrowed our analysis to students who graduated between 2019 and 2021. Our assumption was that the skills listed in those profiles would most likely have been learned in school (since they have not had much time to learn new ones through work experiences). This gave us close to 1.5 million profiles to work with.

For each major, we created a measure of skill recall rates by calculating the percentage of worker profiles that list a given skill. In other words, we identified the supply of top skills for each major based on the skills its recent graduates listed on their profiles. The more graduates that list a certain skill, the greater its supply in the labor market. 

To see where students from each major became employed, we used data from the American Community Survey, which gave us the top five most common occupations for each major. Then we applied the Lightcast library of job postings data to create a vector identifying demand based on the top skills requested for those occupations in 2021. 

After collecting the above data, we weighted the supply of skills based on the proportion of all students who went into each major. Then, we used cosine similarity to measure the distance between the two vectors (supply and demand). That measurement gives us the Skills Alignment Score, falling between 0 and 1, where a higher score indicates closer alignment. 

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