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Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012 9:00 pm | Updated: 9:46 pm, Thu May 10, 2012.

OWATONNA — Less than a month from now, after area schools will graduate more than 2,000 high school students, many of those students will head off to college with hopes of eventually acquiring their dream job.

Dream on.

A recent study done by Northeastern University researchers — supplemented by material from Paul Harrington, an economist at Drexel University, as well as the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank — say the dream may be fading more many of this year’s college graduates, with the outlook not looking much brighter four years from now.

The study stated that 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent of bachelor’s degree holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest rate in 11 years. In 2000, the number was 41 percent.

According to government projections released this spring, only three out of 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor’s degree or higher to fill the position — teachers, college professors and accountants. Most expected 2020 job openings will be in field such as retail sales, fast food and truck driving — jobs that can’t be easily replaced by computers.

Students who majored in zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities were among the least likely to find jobs appropriate to their educational background. Nursing, teaching, accounting and computer science are the most likely.

Matt Carlson, career exploration coordinator at Minnesota State University, Mankato, does agree that there is quite a bit of concern regarding career opportunities for recent high school and college graduates, but it’s not as dark as some may have you think.

“There have been some very difficult times over the past few years and no one has been immune from the recent economic difficulties in the world,” Carlson said. “At some point we have to decide how to approach the current job markets. Is your glass half full or half empty?

“In general, I am cautiously optimistic. The job market is slowly improving and changing. Current career and job seekers need to be focused and actively developing their career options by building on their strengths and emerging skills. Forecasting is very specific to the goals and objectives of each individual and should be approach very carefully.”

Jennifer Rogers, an employer relations specialist at St. Thomas, said her phone has been ringing with employers looking for college graduates, especially students skilled in computers.

“For me, I have felt the demand for computer jobs for the last 12 months,” Rogers said. “It’s really intensified over the last 10 months. There is just a really strong demand for graduates with a computer-related degree.”

Rogers said job openings in computer fields dropped significantly in 2008-2009 as the United States’ economy battled the darkest days of the so-called Great Recession. Once recession fears slowed, employers started looking for college graduates who work on computers, whether in informational technology or software development.

“The general IT careers are really making a lot of noise,” she said.

Rogers added engineering jobs are right behind computer-related jobs, when it comes to demand. Over the past couple of years, engineering firms are having trouble filling open spots, said Rogers.

“Engineers are in demand,” she said. “Certain specialties of engineering have had a hard time finding people with the right skill set.”

That’s good news for Owatonna High School senior Jeremy Zimmermann, who plans to study computer engineering technology at MSU, Mankato.

“It’s more reassuring that it’s a good field with good career opportunities, but I’m really going into it because it’s what I love,” said Zimmerman, who’s currently doing a mentorship program with Viracon process engineer Steve Strusz.

Zimmermann added that a “bunch” of his classmates are also going into some field of engineering.

More good news for Zimmermann is that students, high school or college, who have real world experience have a better shot at finding work after college in their related field.

Before Jackie Baker took over a career services director at Saint Mary’s, she helped students acquire internships, so she knows how helpful real-world experience can be to a recent college graduate scanning the want ads.

“I would definitely take control of my future early, as a freshman or sophomore,” Baker said. “Look up information, work on interview skills, establish a network of connections and get an internships.”

Traditionally, internships have been unpaid. Normally, students would only receive real world experience and possibly college credit. Baker did say that some internships will pay, especially in the fields of computer science and accounting.

Baker did make sure to say that even students with a college degree and a few internships on their resume may have trouble finding their “dream” job, at least right away.

“We recently polled our students (at Saint Mary’s) and the response is pretty enlightening. Most of our graduating students are leaving here with a job in hand or an acceptance into a graduate school. They may not be getting their dream job right away, but they may be getting the job that leads to their dream job.”

Rogers said two other positions that have always been searching for employees are sales and marketing jobs.

“Those are two careers that never died down, even during the recession,” Rogers said. “My phone didn’t ring much during the recession, but when it did, it was for sales and marketing jobs.”

Rogers has read the reports that many college graduates are not finding work or having to take jobs outside of their fields. She said she would like to know who is being interviewed.

“It depends on whom (the study) talked to,” Rogers said. “Did they speak with someone who put in time and effort and did all of the preparation. We’ve been hearing good things from our students. Employers have been calling and saying they have jobs.”

Baker said students who know exactly what they want to do when they graduate from high school seem to have the most success in finding work after college. College students who study more vague majors such as history or literature might have a harder time finding jobs.

“The majors that don’t prepare you for a specific job can be the toughest to find work,” Baker said. “Students need to be creative. They need to find out what their skills are, and then find a way to transfer those acquired skills into a profession.”

Regardless of what major a college freshman or sophomore picks, he or she will still be at the mercy of the United State’s economy. What’s a hot job field today might cool off tomorrow.

“Today’s boom is tomorrow’s bust, but highly skilled workers will always find employment,” Carlson said. “There are some trends which seem obvious to me — health, technology, and energy are common hot spots, but the world is shrinking and becoming more complex. This growing complexity makes it very difficult to simplify markets, yet everyone should become familiar with the trends related to their own career path.”

© 2014 Southernminn.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.

5 comments:

  • secretsquirrel posted at 12:17 pm on Fri, May 11, 2012.

    secretsquirrel Posts: 279

    Might have been a public college AC, they don't offer "Etiquette 101" any longer.

     
  • atlascollapsed posted at 11:45 am on Fri, May 11, 2012.

    atlascollapsed Posts: 71

    I was talking to a young lady the other day who got a liberal arts degree. We talked about the prospects she had and how much debt she accumulated over the 4 years, etc. The all of a sudden she get real snippy with me and says "Seriously sir, do you want fries with that or not? There are lots of people in line!" I guess manners isn't part of the ciriculum. [wink]

     
  • secretsquirrel posted at 11:30 am on Fri, May 11, 2012.

    secretsquirrel Posts: 279

    My favorite part:
    "Students who majored in zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities were among the least likely to find jobs appropriate to their educational background."
    Ya think? Real big demand out there for a zoologist these days. LMAO This site is rife with philosophers, all of which are prolific and.... unpaid.
    Get a clue, get a vocation/profession.
    The best thing to do is look at the job search websites and figure out what jobs are most in demand and then pursue a degree there.
    The state and feds produce volumes of information on this stuff and any high school guidance counselor with a gram of brains could (and should) be advising soon-to-be graduates of these trends and making suggestions for majors/vocation based on that information.
    Instead, a lot of these folks are busy dealing with little Johnny's feelings instead of helping little Johnny choose a viable career path.
    Also, if an area of study in our universities and colleges are producing graduates with no job prospects....
    Why on Earth are we still retaining scores of professors, undergrads and assistant professors in these areas????
    I think we all know the answer to that... job security. A form of academic welfare. Then, every year, the college and university system pulls a high school-like end around and whines because they have to raise tuition rates and need more money.... to do what? Produce 50% unemployable grads?
    Nice system we have here:
    A stated and proven failure that we continue to fund.
    I wonder if car manufacturers would continue to produce a model that didn't sell just to keep the UAW folks employed?
    Something to ponder.

     
  • Soitgoes posted at 11:03 am on Fri, May 11, 2012.

    Soitgoes Posts: 733

    Your "dream job" right after graduation? Yeah, at $100K and full benefits, too, I suppose. Get real. Better yet, just get a job. Stop expecting to start at where most employees never get.

    Yeah, there's the problem. Unrealistic expecations and over-hyped reporting.....

    Most people spend their entire career looking for their "dream job". Some never find it, others "think" they've found it and it turns out that it's not all it was cracked up to be. Furthermore, isn't a "dream job" a bit of an oxymoron? How many of us would REALLY care about a "dream job" if we could financially afford not to work at all? We already have those who are "satisfied" without working at all, because some of the rest of us financially support them.

    Stop insinuating that a college education is the end all, be all. A college education is only as valuable as someone else deems it to be. It's only as "useful" as the market dictates and less so if you get a degree in a field that there isn't much of a chance for employment. Stop over emphasizing the importance of that degree for getting "a job". You don't need a degree to get "a job", and unfortunately, reality check here, folks, most of us will have "a job" long before we have a career in "our field" of study. Stop making our young people think they, and that degree, are employable just because they have that degree. There are a lot more attributes to be considered when seeking employment. Integrity, morals, ethics, honesty, whether you show up on time, whether you have a brain, attitude, soft-skills, personality, who you know, your willingness to do what other's might not, your ability to "learn" (I said learn, not read a book and take a test). All play a role in whether you are employable.

    Where does one even begin to start and finish with this topic..... GRRR!

     
  • offleash posted at 8:33 am on Fri, May 11, 2012.

    offleash Posts: 520

    Kids, it's simple:

    1) Find a career no one really wants (pick up trash, plumber, accountant) or cannot really do (engineer, computer tech expert).
    2) Find out if it's something you'll be moderately happy doing (i.e. you won't hate it).
    3) Work your rear off to be the best.

    Do that, and you'll "find" a job. If not, looking under rocks and whining about it (i.e. "But I've submitted 200 resumes this month but no one wants a philosophy major!") will not work.

    PS: College is about learning a trade, NOT "finding yourself."

     

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