Nothing seems to come easy for college graduates these days. Not only do they face the highest tuitions in history, but the job market hasn’t been as welcoming in recent years as they hoped.
Now news arrives that businesses plan to hire only 2.1 percent more college graduates than they did last year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Several months ago, the association had projected an increase of 13 percent in the hiring race given the improvements in the economy.
Another report from the Economic Policy Institute reports that 2013 graduates will likely earn less over the next 10 to 15 years than they would have if they had graduated before the recession took hold in 2008.
The best opportunities for college graduates this year will be for business, engineering, computer sciences, and accounting majors.
In addition to a slow economy that had difficulties jumpstarting itself, a contributing factor for the lack of hiring is that some employers don’t believe college graduates are getting the proper training. That may be linked to the fact there are not enough qualified graduates with backgrounds in science and math.
A survey of 500 hiring managers by the staffing company Adecco found that 66 percent of employers believe new college graduates are not prepared for the workforce after leaving college. Fifty-eight percent of employers said they were not planning to hire entry level graduates this year and among those who do plan to hire, more than two-thirds of hiring managers said they would be hiring on one or two candidates.
“We need to make sure our graduates know the basics, and many don’t,” said Mauri Ditzler president of Monmouth College in Illinois.
Even simple things such as spelling errors in letters and job applications can torpedo a college grad. Forty-three percent of hiring managers said a spelling error on a résumé can automatically disqualify the job seeker from gaining an interview. Fifty-four percent of managers told the survey they have failed to hire anyone over the past two years because of week résumés.
The unemployment rate for 2012 college graduates was 6.3 percent, a steep drop from 8.3 percent in 2011 and 9.4 percent in 2010.
But while college graduates may not be getting hired like they did before, they are faring much better than high school graduates who entered the job market during the recession. High school graduates last year had an unemployment rate of 29.9 percent, up from 17.5 percent in 2007.
Historically, when recession hits students decide to stay in school longer to weather the downturn. College graduates go after graduate degrees, community college grads enter four-year schools, and more high school graduates see college as a viable option to their job prospects.
But no more. College tuition is so expensive – often $40,000 and upward for a private university – that it is a less desirable option in this economy.
Starting a career at any point can be challenging, yet today’s graduates find themselves with their weakest prospects in decades.