Creative | Manchester

“31% of UK Graduates are Over-educated” – My Thoughts as a Creative

“31% of UK Graduates are Over-educated” – My Thoughts as a Creative

So a trending topic on LinkedIn has me fired up to write about it – especially as an individual without a degree. Read on to hear my thoughts…

“31% of UK graduates are over-educated”

According to this article, nearly a third of UK graduates are overeducated for their jobs, according to the Office for National Statistics, which defines “overeducation” as having more education than required or having unused skills and knowledge. That figure is higher among those working in London, those in the arts and humanities, and people between the ages of 25 and 49 years, it found. Government data shows a degree still attracts higher earnings, however, with postgraduates typically earning about 40% more than those without degrees.

University seems to include too much theory / written work, yet not enough practical experience – at least in my opinion. I have many friends and colleagues working in the creative digital industry that do not see the benefits of their degree (in respect to their current job role), and even regret going to University to study creative subjects. But don’t get me wrong – I think some careers do require qualifications (likely a degree), however, this depends on the job or industry.


“I just don’t think qualifications are always what earn you a higher wage than a lack of them and having talent instead.”

Aleena Sharif

Why do Graduates *sometimes earn a higher wage when they get a job after their degree? Because they haven’t gone straight into a job or Apprenticeship; where you instantly earn whilst you learn. Yes, this is usually at a lower pay rate to start off with, but it is also whilst working towards industry standards, developing professionalism and gaining experience – so of course, you will have to work your way up (and negotiate) to eventually earn more… As opposed to Uni grads who have ‘worked their way up’ by studying instead.

(*if they find a job in their studied field, which is usually very specialised, less creative or conventional / academic type of job i.e Doctor, Teacher or Lawyer.)

It’s just a matter of choosing to; 1/ study longer, then (hopefully) that pays off – literally – so you can get a decent job years later or; 2/ after school or college, go straight into a job or Apprenticeship where I think you are doing more than one thing at once and usually become better prepared and nurtured into working life… I recommend the creative person avoids attending University, but the conventional person attends.


Did you know: Freelancers, Coders, Designers and Project Managers can earn as much as – if not or more than – a Doctor?

Your wage isn’t necessarily higher because of your degree. Wages are determined by factors such as – list not extensive:

-Industry and specialised subject area(s) (creative, non-creative – which can fluctuate depending on trends and social, environmental and technological advances or changes)

-Positions available (now or in future, also depending on how rapidly the company is growing and/or funding)

-Length of service and loyalty to the company (the longer you work for the company, often the more benefits you get)

-Professionalism and a positive attitude (are you easy to develop, work with and are you resilient and determined?)

-Demonstrated (first hand) skills and expertise (what have others seen you do or create on the job? How many relevant people can testify this?)

-Development, portfolio and extra work (inside or outside of working hours)

-Diversity, background and personal qualities (age, gender, location etc)

Flexibility and hours contracted / type of work (Full-time vs Part-Time vs temporary or Freelance)


Tip: you also have the power to negotiate and compare wages of that same role elsewhere – as your company may be able to match that – especially if a competitor is offering more. Sometimes it’s a better (and cheaper – or at least easier) to retain, rather than lose you.

Aleena Sharif on working in the creative sector

So if a person is more skilled and suitable to the higher paying job role, they may be likely be chosen over the person who is more ‘qualified’ – as qualifications are not always relevant or specific to the company, or may not show in work produced. It depends on what is required or favoured more.

You can have all kinds of degrees and qualifications which may initially seem impressive, but it does not always mean you are actually good at your job or have experience. Some things you can be taught, but many things require skill and experience that either comes naturally or over time you develop. A qualification shouldn’t always define or limit you. Move with the times though, University isn’t the only option.

I wasn’t ever taught how to draw or paint. It was a natural talent I discovered and developed – which has led me to where I am today; working in the creative sector. My portfolio and attitude towards work has been my lifeline. Even if that interview didn’t go as smoothly as planned, my work often leaves an impression and speaks more than words.


Creatives shouldn’t be judged by qualifications, but their visual display of talent.

Aleena Sharif

So don’t let it get you down if you haven’t – or don’t intend to – go to University!

Particularly if you want to work in the creative or digital sector. You are what you make yourself. Think outside the box and do what you think is right, but experiment and widen your scope too. Each person’s journey to the same path is different.

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/news/31-of-uk-graduates-are-overeducated-3923081

About the author

Aleena Sharif administrator

Creative based in Manchester, Owner of aleenasharif.co.uk

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