Reality Check: Are Community College Grads Getting Hired?

Reality Check: Are Community College Grads Getting Hired?
Learn about the job conditions facing community college graduates in 2010.

Many who have found themselves out of work thanks to the recent recession have headed back to school for retraining in a more lucrative profession – or so they thought. It turns out that many of those so-called hot industries highly touted during the slowdown are only lukewarm at best for many of the college grads trying to hunt down the openings.

Here's a look back at how things were in 2010.

The Hot Market Illusion

Check out any news publication today, and you will find at least one article about the hottest markets that are currently hiring. Case in point: A piece on the New Year's Day edition of Good Morning America this year listed four hot markets for college graduates to consider. The industries included health care, law enforcement, business services, and sales.

A recent article on lists companies that will be hiring college graduates this summer. Some of those companies do fall into the industries listed by Good Morning America earlier this year. However, finding a company or industry that is hiring, and landing a good job right out of college are too different things, thanks to the many complexities of a dragging economy that hasn't pulled itself out of the unemployment slump just yet.

Factors Affecting Hiring

The truth is that it is simply hard to predict where the jobs will arise because there are many factors that affect the hiring prospects of any single company. For example, many of the predictions cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics take into consideration the number of current employees that are reaching retirement age. The assumption is that these individuals will indeed retire, leaving positions to be filled in their industries.

However, a slow economy also slows retirement plans for many individuals. According to an Associated Press article on Google News, experienced nurses are putting off retirement or even snapping up extra hours to make ends meet after their spouses have been laid off. This makes the short-term outlook for nursing graduates much bleaker, although long-term job predictions are still relatively bright.

Another issue is the glut of applicants looking for jobs in these sectors. Graduates are finding themselves pitted against experienced workers looking to be re-hired, as well as an abundance of fellow graduates pursuing the same potential employment avenues. There are simply not enough jobs yet available to accommodate the many unemployed and recent graduates looking for work.

Finally, accurate job predictions are thwarted by unforeseen circumstances, such as plants unexpectedly closing, that are common when the health of the economy is less than stellar. Lack of communication between industry sectors and public education gurus also makes it difficult to pinpoint where the next jobs will be available. Jane Oates, an assistant secretary for the Labor Department, told USA Today in a recent article on re-training for jobs that officials "in my system walk a tightrope every day. It's very difficult to do 100% foolproof projections anytime, but during a recession, it's really complicated."

Training and the Economy

On the surface, it makes sense to make subsidized training available to dislocated workers who may not be able to find future work in their current industries. However, the idea that training provides job opportunities is simply incorrect in many cases. Anthony Carnevale, head of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, told USA Today in the same article, "Training doesn't create jobs. It's jobs that create the demand for training."

According to a recent Associated Press report, the Labor Department announced that U.S. businesses added just 41,000 new jobs during the month of May. These numbers indicate that businesses are not ramping up their hiring just yet, even though the economy has shown other signs of recovery. The national state of the economy is simply not at a level where jobs are going to be plentiful, no matter where you might be looking. However, there are also subtle signs that the tide might turn eventually, as long as graduates are willing to wait.

Despite some of the gloomy employment predictions for college graduates, most experts still advise those out of work to seek re-training in another sector. Once you have received your degree, patience and flexibility will go a long way in securing that first position. Wayne Wallace, director of the University of Florida's Career Resource Center, told the Associated Press, "Graduates, if they are willing to be geographically mobile and reasonably flexible about what they are willing to do to start out, tremendously increase their odds for success."

2022 Prospects

Last year, though strong growth was projected in hiring, the class of 2021 graduated into what some experts considered a recession. The situation looks much better for 2022 college grads, with the National Association of Colleges and Employers projecting a 31.6 % increase in college hiring. In early May, NPR described the job market for college seniors as “booming,” citing a “hot labor market” that has students “accepting job offers months before they graduate,” boding well for this year’s crop of entry-level employees. Source: U.S. News

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