It has always been presumed that the workers with the highest level of education earn more than their counterparts who have graduated from not so prestigious educational establishments. According to Kaymak (2008), while it may be true that a higher level of education means a higher pay, the difference in income cannot be solely explained by the level of education. The variation in earnings may be a reflection of the different characteristic features of employees (Kaymak, 2008). The author suggests that productivity, and hence high salary, should not be benchmarked on the level of education because some students pretend to be productive by seeking a higher level of education (p. 3). These remarks are supported by Gessner (1995), who argues that the majority of people leave school without the attitudes, skills, and understanding required to be productive in the labor market. For an employee to be efficient and proficient, and thus eligible to a higher salary, he or she must be able to have a total command of the required skills (Gessner, 1995).
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The differences in income can be attributed to institutional factors, individual characteristics (Bell, 2010), and regional characteristics (Shi, 2015). Bobbitt-Zeher (2008) conducted a study of the relationship between education and gender income gaps. In an attempt to identify the issues related to gender income gaps, Bobbitt-Zeher (2008; Therriault, 1985) points out that while the number of educated girls has increased, the gender income gap remains a reality. This is despite the fact that the number of men in the labor market has decreased over the same period (Bobbitt-Zeher, 2008). The author presents yet another reason as to why the level of education should not be the only benchmark factor used to explain income differences. He points towards traditional injustice as one of the factor behind income variation. His thoughts are shared by Gaad (2012), who in a study about the role of women in the Egyptian revolution and the effects that it had on their future roles points out that the participation of women in social movements contradicts gender role perceptions according to many researchers (Caviris, 2014). It is possible to relate this scenario to the issue of income distribution and the level of education. Graduation from higher education facilities does not necessarily imply a higher income level or employment in the first case. A graduate who has poor skills may be delegitimized just like a woman who violates gender expectations.
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Relevant literature on the topic indicates that the majority of people work in sectors that are not related to what they have studied. The changing political, social, and economic environments have redefined many aspects of the society, and employment is not an exception. Whilst the majority of young people enter higher education institutions, including AUC, to improve their chances of being employed, they often find themselves working in sectors outside the range of their education. As much as one may blame this problem on the economy, one should not ignore institutional factors. More specifically, the ability of educational establishments to provide the labor market with the employees who possess the right skills is under question (Elkassed, 2003), and so is the commitment of students to the learning process.
Using a content analysis approach, Elkassed (2003) sought to establish whether technical institutions produced the workers with the right skills for the labor market. As part of his conclusion, he found that whilst students had high expectations of getting a job after graduation, the majority of higher educational institutions provided them with sub-standards skills (Elkassed, 2003). This looks like the best hint so far as to why the AUC graduates earn lower wages than they have expected. In his study to identify the factors that affect career choice and the success of the labor market, Mohsen (1984) noted two different outcomes of inappropriate expansion in higher education. First, mal-distribution of students to different fields would lead to a surplus in one field, like in the case of social arts, and a shortage in other practical fields. Second, Mohsen (1984; Anwar, 2003) warned that the quality and skills higher educational establishments provide their students with may not match the needs of the labor market. For these reasons, the majority of graduates will become employed in marginal positions where their skill will remain underexploited, and the salary they will receive will be way below their expectations (Mohsen 1984). In a study regarding the opportunity cost of teaching, Svrlinga (2010) argues that many studies have avoided the issue of opportunity cost in relation to choosing between one career and not the other. In the absence of good guidance, many students choose a career path based on its monetary rewards.
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Many studies have linked high salaries with the high level of education. Many people believe that those with a higher level of education are the ones who receive higher salaries compared to those who have a lower level of education. Based on this belief, the AUC graduates have quite high expectations, but they are ignorant of other factors that may influence their salary level. Besides the level of education, traditional definitions of gender role, inherent characteristics of an individual, and the quality of skills that a graduate has are just some of the factors that affects the salary that a graduate employee will get. More important in defining the level of a salary of an individual employee is his or her efficiency, proficiency, skills, abilities, and other personal features.