University-to-work transition. A qualitative inquiry on overqualification among Romanian young people

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. (under review) ‘Higher education as seen through the lens of young people working in innovative technologies in Romania’.

Isirabahenda, G. (in print) ‘Students’ Views on Women’s Leadership in Social Services: A Qualitative Analysis in Romania and the Czech Republic’ in Revista de Asistenta Sociala. 4/2018.

Silian. A. (work in progress) ‘VET Teachers on the Introduction of Dual VET in Romania. An analysis from the Perspective of Justification Theory’, accepted for presentation at the 3rd International VET Conference – Crossing Boundaries in Vocational Education and Training: Pedagogical concerns and market demands, 2-3.05. 2019, València, Spain.

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:


The team had a public presentation of the project within the research seminar of the Sociology Department of UBB. (26.10.2018).

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 (17-19.05. 2018 Cluj Napoca).

Maria-Carmen Pantea participated at the conference ‘Skills for the future: Managing transition’ organised by the European Training Foundation, Torino 21-22. 11. 2018.


Participation in trainings:


Gonzague Isirabahenda took part in an online training for NVivo 10: ‘Alfasoft Online Demo Days 2018’ (24.10.2018)


Participation in policy-related events:


Maria-Carmen Pantea participated at the Editorial board meeting of the European Training Foundation (Torino, 20 Noiembrie 2018).

Maria-Carmen Pantea participated at “Towards Collaborative Practice” Forum: A cross-sector event exploring the potential of youth work and Erasmus+ to foster social entrepreneurship among young people. Budapesta (27.11-01.12.2018).


May 2018 – December 2018

Maria-Carmen Pantea, project director: