For most students, joining a college or university of their choice is the first step towards realizing their career goals. Most college students are optimistic of getting a job in the discipline they have majored in upon graduation. Getting a job is also enough reason for fresh graduates to move away from home and be independent of their parents.
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This would enable them to start paying their personal bills and university loans, and also to begin saving for retirement. Every year, our universities churn out seas of graduates to a labor market that is shrinking by the day. The sad thing is that most of these institutions of higher learning rarely prepare graduates for the challenges that they encounter after completing their tertiary education.
The national outlook of the job market is very bleak. For example, most graduates are already finding it very hard to secure a job interview. This means that getting a job is even harder. Over 2.4 million students were awarded associates and bachelor’s degrees in 2010, and the number was projected to increase in 2011 and 2012 (Rastello para. 4).
Not only are these job seekers expected to apply for limited job openings with their fellow classmates, but they shall also have to battle it out with university graduates from past years and laid-off workers as well. Financially strapped retirees are also making a comeback into the job market and they could be a further hindrance to the chances of fresh graduates getting a job.
Figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (para. 1) show that every job opening attracts a minimum of five job seekers, and the number is projected to increase moving forward. This is because students’ enrolment rates at institutions of higher learning are increasing from one year to the next.
Consequently, the number of university students graduating has also increased tremendously from one year to another. However, the number of job openings is not increasing in tandem with an increase in the number of university graduates. If anything, the job market has continued to shrink.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (para. 1), unemployment rate reduced to 7.8 percent in September 2012, compared with the same period in 2010, when the rate of unemployment was at 9 percent.
This slight improvement in the rate of unemployment has been attributed to increased rate of employment in warehousing and transportation industries, although majority of the main industries have remained unchanged. As such, stiff competition is still expected in the job market.
Employers are also keen on hiring recent college graduate, but this depends on how the economy behaves, according to a survey conducted by Career Builder (para. 1). Almost one in every four hiring managers is keen on hiring new full-time employees, but they are currently not doing it because they do not know how the economy will behave in the immediate future (Career Builder para. 3).
Most fresh graduates are now very confident that they will get a job. However, some of the recent university graduates do not hold this view, and they argue that such confidence could be misplaced.
These graduates have seen their brothers, sisters, cousins and friends go for years without getting jobs and as such, their optimism of getting a job has waned over the years. The best shot at employment that they can hope for is getting part-time jobs bartending or waiting tables.
The worst thing about being a jobless university graduate in this day and age is that by the time you graduate, you already have a huge student loan debt to settle. In the past, this would not have been a problem because most graduates used to get jobs immediately after graduation and then they would start paying their student loans.
However, the hiring situation today is very different from what it was in the past because jobs are hard to come by. On the other hand, even those graduates who are fortunate enough to get jobs will end up earning less than their peers who graduated in the past few years.
The National Centre for Education Statistics shows that the individuals who graduated with bachelor’s degrees in the Class of 2010 got an average salary of $ 47,674 representing a decrease of 1.7 % from 2009 (Rastello para. 5). On the basis of these statistics, we could argue that most recent graduates are likely to feel the financial consequences for the reminder of the time that they are gainfully employed.
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This is because when students graduate from college at a time when the economy is not doing well, this is likely to affect their wages negatively. When the economy is not doing well and the level of unemployment is high, graduates are more inclined to take jobs that are not aligned to their overall careers objectives, or lower-level jobs. Therefore, they end up earning less.
Besides the financial ramifications of being jobless, university graduates are also faced with emotional angst as well. While at college, most of these graduates never imagine that upon graduation, they will find it hard to get jobs.
Although most university graduates do not expect to get their dream jobs right away, nonetheless, they are optimistic of getting a job that will at least keep them occupied as they search for greener pastures. When such jobs are not forthcoming, some of the graduates get really depressed.
Parents too, have been affected by the high rates of unemployment among college graduates. A large number of university graduates opt to move back home upon graduation as they wait to get a job. Besides encroaching on their space, parents have to take care of their sons and daughters upkeep as they go about job hunting.
The input of parents may also be required in assisting their children to get jobs. Besides the financial support that parents are expected to give their children who are job hunting, they are offer moral support.
As the unemployment bug bites harder, and with full-time jobs proving very hard to come by, most students are deciding to explore alternative routes. Some of them are opting for unpaid internships in the hope that when a job opening emerges, they shall be given the first priority.
Other students have been known to relocate to remote areas away from their families and friends. There is also another group of students who are opting to prolong their stay in school. They hope that by the time they graduate with their second degrees, the economy will have improved. They will also have gained additional academic qualifications, in effect giving them an edge in the job market.
The high rate of unemployment has also seen an increasingly larger number of students starting their own businesses instead of waiting to get jobs that may not be available in the first place. This is a commendable step to take because in the end, students end up doing what they enjoy the most, not to mention that as their businesses grow, they will create jobs and help to reduce unemployment.
Another creative strategy that is increasingly being embraced by recent college graduates who are searching for jobs is to pick any available jobs, even if the job in question does not fit their respective majors. Besides broadening their search, such a strategy is also effective in the long-run because a student ends up with valuable skills in a field outside what he/she studied in college.
Consequently, this increases their chances of getting more job opportunities in future. However, the problem with this approach is that a student ends up getting a job, and not a career. Unless a student finds passion in this job, then he/she could get frustrated because the job was never a priority in the first place. On the other hand, any job is better than none.
Many college graduates have also had to settle for internships with the intention of getting the necessary experience in their field of training. This is yet another creative way to get prospective employers to notice them. Some of the students are fortunate enough to get jobs while others find useful leads that translate into jobs.
A few students are also signing a contract with prospective employers at the end of the internship program that the employer will offer them a job upon graduation. Other students are also opting to enroll for technical degrees as they stand a better chance at getting employment, compared with nontechnical degrees.
The choice of degree major is slowly emerging as one of the contributing factors, to the high rate of unemployment in the country, besides a bad economy.
In fact, most of the students who graduated in the past few years and are yet to get jobs are regretting for having chosen certain majors and not others after witnessing some of their college mates get jobs a few months after graduating on account of having pursued certain majors that are much sought after in the job market.
Beside the reality of the need to chose a marketable degree course, most university students seem to be more aware of the economic realities and the need to be more flexible in the choice of jobs.
In spite of all the negative news as regards the issue of unemployment, there are still bright spots for students who are about to graduate. For example, the retailing and accounting industries are hiring college graduates. In addition, students graduating with technical degrees are more likely to get jobs faster than other graduates.
They are also more likely to earn more in comparison with their colleagues with other majors. For example, according to the students graduating with computer-related degrees enjoy a 5.8% salary increase compared with their peers in other disciplines (Petrecca para. 10).
There appears to be no end in sight for unemployed fresh graduate students, who continue with their search for full-time jobs and/or rewarding careers. Perhaps the time has come for our education system to play a leading role in preparing students to cope with the impending danger of being unemployed.
Career Builder 2011. Hiring Outlook for 2012 Remains Cautiously Optimistic, CareerBuilder’s Annual Job Forecast Finds. Web.
Petrecca, Laura 2010. Toughest test comes after graduation: Getting a job. Web.
Rastello, Sandrine 2012. Major matters for U.S college graduates seeking jobs. 2012. Web.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012. Employment Situation Summary. Web.