OVERED: University-to-work transition. A qualitative inquiry on over-qualification among Romanian youth

This project is supported by a grant of the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research and Innovation, CNCS – UEFISCDI, project number PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2016-0368. Contract number: 12/2018.

Period: 2018-2020


General presentationTeamResearch outcomesReportsContact

Europe has the most educated generation in its history. Yet, many graduates work in other fields; have jobs that require lower skills and offer limited opportunities for professional growth. They are overqualified. This project sets out to fill an important research void at the intersection of youth, employment and higher education. It aims to gain an understanding of overqualified peoples’ views on the world of work that is unfolding upon graduation and on the perceived value of education. For contextualizing their views, the project integrates qualitative research (in-depth interviews) with other key actors: employers/ HR staff, local employment offices and university career counsellors. Finally, the project engages in a critical dialogue with the policy making on employability and challenges dominant paradigms that either victimize or blame young people.




  • To explore overqualified graduates’ perspectives on their occupational history and meanings of work;
  • To examine the meanings young overqualified graduates attribute to education by large and higher education in particular;
  • To generate a typology of employers’ views on overqualification, based on theoretical sampling;
  • Based on interviews with a diversity of actors, to map the particularities of overqualification in Romania.


Maria-Carmen PANTEA – project director

Alina Petronela SILIAN – doctoral researcher

Gonzague ISIRABAHENDA – doctoral researcher

Publications and Reports:


Pantea, M.C. and Potočnik, D. (2019) Employability revisited. Mapping the role of youth work in the field of youth employability and entrepreneurship. Madrid: Erasmus+.

Pantea, M.C. (under review) „Higher education as seen through the lens of young people working in innovative technologies in Romania”.

Pantea, M.C. (IFirst) „Perceived reasons for pursuing vocational education and training among young people in Romania”. Journal of Vocational Education & Training.

Pantea, M.C. (Forthcoming) „Parents as gatekeepers? An indirect account on the image of vocational education in historical context” Journal of Family History.

A Background Report is available. It has the purpose of informing the qualitative research by updated studies on the main themes of interest: (i) the economic transformations in the nature of work in Romania; (ii) a critical analysis of employability and related concepts.


Conferences and seminars:


Gonzague Isirabahenda made the presentation „A conceptual understanding of graduate underemployment in Romania” at the conference „Tendințe ale cunoașterii și dezvoltării sociale în secolul XXI”, organised by Departamentul de Științe Sociale al Universității „1 Decembrie 1918″ Alba Iulia and Institutul de Cercetare a Calităţii Vieţii (Octomber 2019, Alba Iulia).

Maria-Carmen Pantea made the presentation ‘”Graduates” over-qualification. Performing the border of precarious employment in Romania’s call centers and chaired the session „Housing transitions” at the 14th ESA Conference „Europe and beyond: boundaries, barriers and belongings” (August 2019, Manchester).

Maria-Carmen Pantea made a presentation at The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Regional Conference – Europe, Mediterranean and Arab States, (July 2019, Cluj-Napoca).

Gonzague Isirabahenda took part at the conference „Work, Industry, Robotization” at the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, UBB (June 2019, Cluj Napoca).

Alina Silian chaired the workshop „Continuous Vocational Education and Training” at „The 3rd international VET Conference – Crossing Boundaries în Vocational Education and Training: Pedagogical concerns and market demands” (May 2019, València).

The team had a public presentation of the project within the research seminar of the Sociology Department of UBB (October 2018, Cluj Napoca).

Maria-Carmen Pantea made the presentation „Imagined (working) lives of young people in Romania’s vocational education and training” at conference „Self and Identity in Emerging Adulthood Babeș-Bolyai University” a Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood (May 2018, Cluj Napoca).

Maria-Carmen Pantea participated at the conference „Skills for the future: Managing transition” organised by the European Training Foundation (November 2018, Torino).


Participation in trainings:

Alina Silian took part in the programme FUTURE – Construiește cu pasiune of ReImagine Education Office Depot, a series of trainings for a better understanding of employability and the role of higher education (October-December 2019, Cluj Napoca)

Maria-Carmen Pantea took part in the World Bank online course „The Future of Work: Preparing for Disruption” (October 2019).

Gonzague Isirabahenda took part at the graduate seminar „Educație de calitate prin cercetare participativă în spaţiul rural” Ediţia I – Şugag, organised by Centrul de Cercetări Sociologice al Universităţii „1 Decembrie 1918″ Alba Iulia (September 2019, Şugag Alba)

Gonzague Isirabahenda took part in two online training seminars on the use of NVivo 10. The trainings were organised by Alfasoft® (October 2018 and May, 2019).

Gonzague Isirabahenda took part in an academic writing training: „Scrierea și publicarea de articole științifice și respectarea deontologiei și eticii în cercetare” offered by Babes-Bolyai University within the project CNFIS-FDI-2018-0057 Educaţie de calitate la UBB (June 2019, Cluj Napoca).

Alina Silian took part at the Research methods symposium „Researching (In)Equalities at Work” organised by Alliance Manchester Business School (April 2019, Manchester).

Gonzague Isirabahenda took part in an Enformation event for improving access to scientific literature. The event was organised by Asociatia Universitătilor, Institutelor de Cercetare-Dezvoltare şi Bibliotecilor Centrale Universitare din România „Anelis Plus” and SC E-nformation (March 2019).


Policy-related contributions:


Maria-Carmen Pantea was invited speaker at the Kick off conference on Youth Employability & Entrepreneurship of the Youth@Work Strategic Partnership (June 2019, Istanbul).

Maria-Carmen Pantea contributed to the publication Youth research: The Essentials of the European Union– Council of Europe youth partnership (2019)

Maria-Carmen Pantea supported the European Training Foundation in developing and writing publications, as an editorial board member.

Maria-Carmen Pantea made a presentation at the „Towards Collaborative Practice 2018 – Forum on the environmental dimension of social entrepreneurship” at the European Youth Center, Budapest (December 2018).

Maria-Carmen Pantea, project director: maria.pantea@ubbcluj.ro