College graduates’ skills don’t match the available jobs, said participants in a community forum in Fort Collins, Colorado, reports The Coloradoan.
Matt Dinsmore, co-owner of Wilbur’s Total Beverage in Fort Collins, said he employs three people with masters’ degrees, including a beer stocker with a physics degree.
Martin Shields, a Colorado State University economics professor, said a college degree is an important investment, but the first four to five years after college are “tougher than they’ve ever been.”
Dawn Putney, CEO of design and marketing firm Toolbox Creative, most four-year graduates don’t have the job skills she needs. Young people are encouraged to go for a university degree, not to explore alternatives such as community colleges, she said.
Jim Neubecker, a member of the Governor’s Workforce and Small Business Development Council, said union electricians, pipe-fitters and plumbers can work 40 hours per week while attending school two nights per week, learning skills while avoiding debt. Community colleges often partner with unions to get students certified on otherwise prohibitively expensive equipment, Neubecker said.
A growing number of college graduates are underemployed, concludes a new study from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
About 48 percent of employed U.S. college graduates are in jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests requires less than a four-year college education. Eleven percent of employed college graduates are in occupations requiring more than a high-school diploma but less than a bachelor’s, and 37 percent are in occupations requiring no more than a high-school diploma;
In 1970, fewer than one percent of taxi drivers and two percent of firefighters had college degrees; now more than 15 percent do in both jobs. Increasingly, new college graduates are working as clerks, cashiers, retail sales reps and waiters and waitresses, the report found. About five million are in jobs the BLS says require less than a high-school education.
Comparing average earnings for high school and college graduates is misleading, the report warns. “Overproduction of college graduates lowers recent graduate earnings relative to those graduating earlier.”
Not all colleges are equal: Typical graduates of elite private schools make more than graduates of flagship state universities, but those graduates do much better than those attending relatively non-selective institutions;
Not all majors are equal: Engineering and economics graduates, for example, typically earn almost double what social work and education graduates receive by mid-career;
The number of college graduates is projected to increase by 19 million in 20 years; the number of jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree is projected to increase by 7 million, according to the BLS.
If President Obama’s college completion goal is met, even more young people will be competing for a limited number of professional jobs, warns Richard Vedder, co-author of the study and director of CCAP. Soon, would-be janitors will need “a master’s degree in Janitorial Studies.”
The “college for all” movement is misguided, CCAP argues, calling for “new and cheaper ways to assure employee competency” and investing “less in four year degree programs and more in cheaper training, including high school vocational education.”
College graduates continue to earn significantly more than non-graduates, Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, tells Inside Higher Ed.
“You can’t have a 48 percent surplus of college graduates and an 84 percent college wage premium over high school,” Carnevale wrote via e-mail. “This advantage wouldn’t have been growing along with the number of college graduates since 1983. The market is very responsive to labor supply…. If there was an over production the employers would’ve figured it out some time over the past 30 years.”
Nearly half of sales reps in the wholesale and manufacturing industries have four-year degrees in what the BLS considers a high school-level job. “What Vedder doesn’t point out is that sales representatives with B.A.s make $73,000 a year compared with sales representatives with high school degrees who only make $38,000 a year,” says Carnevale.
China has quadrupled the number of community college and university graduates in the last decade, but many are unemployed or underemployed because they refuse to take low-status factory jobs, reports the New York Times. In the U.S., employment rises with education. In Chinese cities, young college graduates are four times as likely to be unemployed as those with an elementary education, according to a survey by a Chinese university.
In Guangzhou, “factories make everything from T-shirts and shoes to auto parts, tablet computers and solar panels,” reports the Times. Wages, benefits and living conditions have improved dramatically, but many factories are “desperate for workers.”
Wang Zengsong is desperate for a steady job. He has been unemployed for most of the three years since he graduated from a community college here after growing up on a rice farm. Mr. Wang, 25, has worked only several months at a time in low-paying jobs, once as a shopping mall guard, another time as a restaurant waiter and most recently as an office building security guard.
But he will not consider applying for a full-time factory job because Mr. Wang, as a college graduate, thinks that is beneath him. Instead, he searches every day for an office job, which would initially pay as little as a third of factory wages.
The one-child policy means many young graduates can count on the support of their two parents and four grandparents.
As in the U.S., factories in China are having trouble finding workers who can operate and maintain complex equipment. Yet vocational students are outnumberedctwo to one by students in academic classes.
China is spending $250 billion a year to send tens of millions of young people to community colleges and universities, reports the New York Times. China has quadrupled the output of two- and four-year college graduates in the last decade.
The aim is to change the current system, in which a tiny, highly educated elite oversees vast armies of semi-trained factory workers and rural laborers. China wants to move up the development curve by fostering a much more broadly educated public, one that more closely resembles the multifaceted labor forces of the United States and Europe.
Li Shufu, the chairman of the automaker Geely, has opened a university that stresses engineering and science, particularly auto engineering, endowed a liberal arts university and “opened a 5,000-student vocational community college in his hometown, Taizhou, to train skilled blue-collar workers.”
As recently as 1996, only one in six Chinese 17-year-olds graduated from high school. That was the same proportion as in the United States in 1919. Now, three in five young Chinese graduate from high school, matching the United States in the mid-1950s.
China’s community colleges and universities produce eight million graduates a year, compared to three million a year in the U.S., which has about one-fourth the number of people.
Some question the quality of China’s higher education system, notes the Times. Experts say “the growth of classroom slots in higher education has outstripped the supply of qualified professors and instructors.”
If the U.S. is to lead the world in college graduates — President Obama’s goal — it must increase associate degree holders, concludes Getting Back on Top, a report by Jim Hull, senior policy analyst at the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education. That will require a national focus on enrollment and success in community colleges and trade schools.
Currently the U.S. ranks second only to Norway (35 percent) in the percentage of adults holding a bachelor’s degree or better at 32 percent. However, America is outranked by most countries when it comes to two-year degree graduates, tying for 18th with the United Kingdom and Germany at 10 percent.
Overall, the U.S. ranks fifth in the world in adults with degrees at 42 percent when not differentiating between two- and four-year colleges — behind Russia (54 percent), Canada (51 percent), Israel (46 percent) and Japan (45 percent).
When it comes to young adults ages 25 to 34, the U.S. is falling behind other countries, which are producing more young two- and four-year graduates.
“If we can double the 10-percent two-year degree rate to get to a 20, 25 percent rate, we will be up there in total college attainment rate, which will have a significant impact not only on college rankings,” Hull said.
It’s not just a matter of bragging rights, of course. Many jobs now require more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree.
Education Is The Key To Better Jobs, concludes the Hamilton Project. (The chart’s “some college” group includes people with associate degrees and certificates, I believe.)
However, charting the superior earnings of college graduates doesn’t answer the chicken-or-egg question: Do college graduates earn more because of the degree or because they were smarter and more goal-oriented in the first place?
In The Atlantic, Derek Thompson displays an earlier Hamilton graph, which compares the rate of return from an associate and bachelor’s degree against other investment options. Because community college tuition is so low, the associate degree has the highest rate of return.
Almost half the jobs lost in the recession have been recovered and virtually all the added jobs require a college credential of some kind, reports the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce.
“It is a tough job market for college graduates but far worse for those without a college education,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, the Georgetown Center’s director and co-author of the report.
Four-year college graduates continue to earn twice as much as high school graduates. Unemployment is relatively high for graduates, but they do much better than workers with only a high school diploma.
. . . in 2012, seven percent of graduates with a bachelor degree or better are still unemployed and another 14 percent are underemployed in jobs beneath their skill levels. By comparison, the unemployment rate for new high school graduates is 24 percent and 42 percent for those individuals are underemployed.
Jobs that require bachelor’s degrees have been the big winner, increasing by 2.2 million jobs since the recession began.
Those jobs that required some college or an associate’s degree declined by 1.8 million in the recession but have regained 1.6 million of those job losses since the recovery began in 2010. At the same time 5.8 million jobs for those with high school or less have been lost since the recession began.
“In the mid 1970s, less than 30 percent of jobs in America required any education beyond high school,” said Jamie P. Merisotis, president and chief executive officer of Lumina Foundation. “Today, the majority of U.S. jobs require a postsecondary degree or credential.”
In blue-collar sectors, which took the brunt of the recession, college-educated workers were much less likely to lose their jobs. For example, 25 percent of construction workers with high school diplomas were laid off compared to two percent of college graduates.
College enrollment jumped sharply in the recession, peaking in 2009 but has fallen off rapidly since then. Since 2006, the rate of increase in male enrollment has caught up and slightly surpassed the rate of increase in female enrollment.
PolicyDirect, a new web site, provides links to research on college access and success. The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) launched the site, which is backed by the Lumina Foundation for Education.
“We think it’s going to be a real asset to help us reach the national attainment goal that’s essential to our work at the foundation and critical to the nation’s future,” said Jamie Merisotis, president of the Lumina Foundation and a co-founder of IHEP.
Lumina wants 60 percent of Americans to have a postsecondary credential or degree with labor-market value by 2025.
Reports on the website can be accessed by asking a question in the search field or simply entering a keyword. A search for “access,” for instance,” turned up 99 results—at least for a report from as far back as 1999 but most from recent years. Each report on the website is accompanied by a brief summary written by a group of “emerging scholars.”
Topics include Developmental Education, Financial Aid, Transfer and Student Mobility, Career and Technical Education, Employment Outcomes, High School Coursetaking and more.
With tuition soaring and state budgets dwindling, the U.S. needs to control college costs. But how? American Enterprise Institute education research fellow Andrew P. Kelly and Kevin Carey of the New America Foundation have commissioned eleven new studies on ways to produce more college graduates without spending more money. Strategies include:
Make cost containment a central tenet of existing institutions by emphasizing responsible debt financing, prioritizing faculty’s teaching duties over research, and leveraging the expertise of external business consultants to identify potential avenues of cost savings.
Identify the unique functions colleges perform, such as providing academic content and a marketable degree, and offer them to students separately. There is now an array of companies that provide pieces of the college experience for a fraction of the cost. One common example is the growing number of online courses offered.
Allow newer institutions to enter the higher education marketplace, rather than protecting the revenue structure of existing schools. Under the current system, new schools face very high barriers to entry due to rigorous accreditation regulations.
Employers expect to hire 10.2 percent more new college graduates this year than they did last year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook update.
Median starting salaries for the class of 2012 are up 4.5 percent to $42,569 a year, NACE reports. Engineering jobs pay the most — a median of $58,581.