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Studies show that the job market might be changing for college grads

By Steffi Shook |

The job market is booming! Record increase in employment! College grads need not worry about jobs!

These are all statements the National Association of Colleges and Employees is screaming in its new study on the job market. If this is the case, then why are so many seniors nervous about graduating?

It turns out that just because the job market is improving, that doesn’t necessarily mean good things for prospective graduates.

According to Jennifer Stuchko, membership marketing assistant of NACE, the organization released a study earlier this year dealing with the current job market. The study enthusiastically claims that this is the best job market graduating college students could ask for. The study concludes college hiring will increase by 14 percent this coming year and that young workers will have no trouble finding work in the future.

After the job market slump of 2003, why the sudden change in outlook? NACE believes the skilled labor force is shrinking due to the Baby Boomer generation settling into retirement. This may be so, but does that mean employers are going to turn to recent college graduates over more experienced workers?

The answer is no according to The Association for Career and Technical Education. ACTE is an organization dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers and they do not want the public to be swayed by these optimistic reports. The organization started putting together their own study at the end of 2006 and the results were startling.

Approximately 40 percent of 20- to 24-year-old college graduates are currently in jobs that do not require a college degree according to Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. He says these graduates are earning 30 percent less than they would if they were in college labor market jobs. The ACTE also said that although employers have openings, recent college graduates should not hold their breath for a position.

The Democratic Policy Committee has also found some disheartening statistics about these young graduates’ futures: “The unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds has risen from 7.2 percent to 10.7 percent in the last five years,” the committee said.

These studies would explain why so many college students turn pale when asked about life after graduation. Even underclassmen like Angeline Del Valle are starting to feel the pressure.

“I am a little worried about finding a job after college because there are so many people going into the field of communications,” Del Valle said.

Although these results are unsettling, many people still stand behind NACE’s theory of a healthy job market.

Jenny L. Beasley Preffer, director of Career Services at Flagler College, said, “Helping students find employment after college is part of our mission in Career Services and we’ve had no complaints that students are having difficulty.”

The job market has seemed more like a rollercoaster over the past few years, but does early planning always help graduates evade problems?

Kara Pound graduated in December 2006 with a BA in communication and no idea where to start her career.

“I had interned at Folio Weekly,” she said. “So I called them and asked if I could do some freelance writing for them. They agreed, and thus began a freelance writing career.”

Flagler College senior Rachael Stevens is also relying on this “fall-into-place” chain of events.

“All I know is I don’t want to go to grad school right away,” she said. “I have no clue what I want to do for a job after school. I spent all of high school planning what I would do after high school and that’s not exactly how I want to spend my senior year of college.”

There are some people who believe studies like these can hurt college students rather than help them. Everyone is stressing career planning from the moment students step into a four-year institution. Yet not everyone finds this sort of pressure helpful.

John Paul McLean graduated in 2003 from Flagler and is a partial owner in local T-shirt business “Rosa Loves.”

“There is a lot of pressure to get a job right out of college,” McLean said. “I am not sure that’s the healthiest way to approach the job search. That sort of pressure creates anxiety and a lot of times to deal with anxiety, a person will settle. I think it’s important to be picky and selective … confident that someone needs you.”

Carrie Anne Meadows graduated in April and had some difficulties finding a job. “My best advice to those graduating is to be avid in your search, and try your best to be patient,” Meadows said. “Patience is one of the best qualities a new graduate can possess.

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