Archive for ‘jobs after college’

May 18, 2015

Millennials’ poor technology skills are hurting their employers

by Grace

Millennials’ lack of technological prowess is costing their employers big-time”.

Today’s young adults are establishing their careers, but their lack of technological prowess is costing their employers big-time. Yes, you read that right. In spite of growing up having the Internet in the palms of their hands, these so-called “digital natives” have a yawning knowledge gap that’s not apparent until they get into the office.

“Most Gen Ys grew up accustomed to using social media and texting for communicating and collaborating and haven’t had to use email or spreadsheets extensively,” explains Chris Pope, senior director of strategy at technology services company ServiceNow.

In terms of technology, they lack workplace skills but have mastered social skills.

And unfortunately for them, programs like Outlook and Excel are the technologies most companies in America still rely on to get stuff done. Being able to summon a car, book a table or send a birthday gift with the tap of a finger is great, but this kind of streamlined experience isn’t the norm in most workplaces, and young workers just can’t deal. “Many are only introduced to those tools when they enter the workforce and have to change their natural way of engaging to better match the way everyone else in the enterprise is working,” Pope says. “In many ways, Gen Y have to go backwards to use less efficient technology in the office than they use in their personal lives.”

Millennials are lousy at Google research.

And millennials’ technology problem isn’t limited to functions like emailing and creating spreadsheets. Researchers have found that a lot of young adults can’t even use Google correctly. One study of college students found that only seven out of 30 knew how to conduct a “well-executed” Google search.

“When it comes to finding and evaluating sources in the Internet age, students are downright lousy,” an article in Inside Higher Ed says about the study. “They were basically clueless about the logic underlying how the search engine organizes and displays its results. Consequently, the students did not know how to build a search that would return good sources.”

Some of the “most basic information literacy skills” are not being taught in high school, and are apparently not required to get a college diploma.

Duke and Asher said they were surprised by “the extent to which students appeared to lack even some of the most basic information literacy skills that we assumed they would have mastered in high school.” Even students who were high achievers in high school suffered from these deficiencies, Asher told Inside Higher Ed in an interview.

In other words: Today’s college students might have grown up with the language of the information age, but they do not necessarily know the grammar.

“I think it really exploded this myth of the ‘digital native,’ ” Asher said. “Just because you’ve grown up searching things in Google doesn’t mean you know how to use Google as a good research tool.”

‘Satisfice’
Educational institutions are finding that they are enablers in allowing students to do enough to ‘“satisfice” — that is, do what they can to get by and graduate’.

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Martha C. White, “This Is Millennials’ Most Embarrassing Secret”, Time, May 4, 2015.

Steve Kolowich, “What Students Don’t Know”, Inside Higher Ed,  August 22, 2011.

May 13, 2015

Times are ‘rough’ for new petroleum engineering grads

by Grace

What should the flood of petroleum engineering graduates do now that the oil slump has made jobs scarce?

The price of oil is down by more than 40% since June, closing Friday at $59.39 a barrel. Employment at U.S. energy companies has dropped by 6,800 jobs so far this year, according to federal data released Friday, but jobs at energy-services companies have fallen far more, by perhaps 30,000. Graves & Co., a Houston consulting company, says energy employers have announced 120,000 layoffs around the world.

So jobs are scarce for the nearly 1,800 students in the U.S. expected to graduate this year with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering.

Some are going back to school for an MBA and some are taking non-engineering jobs just to get their foot in the door.

One recommendation is to try to get a job as a roughneck.  But that’s not an easy job.

20150511.COCDrilling_Roughnecks1

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Erin Ailworth, “Who Will Hire a Petroleum Engineer Now?”, Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2015.

May 12, 2015

Why college graduates should prioritize retirement planning

by Grace

Graduating college? It is time to think about retirement.

That’s not necessarily the advice millennials expect to hear, but it makes sense when you consider the power of compounding.

Saving “$5,000 per year only from ages 25 to 35 (10 years)” will generate a larger retirement nest egg than saving “$5,000 per year, but from ages 35 to 65 (30 years)”

Your income-earning ability is your “human capital”.  Planning for retirement requires that you find a way to replace income generated by human capital with that generated by your investments.

… Your overriding financial goal: Every year, put aside 12% to 15% of your earnings for retirement, so by your 60s you no longer need the income generated by your human capital.

While 15% may sound like a lot, definitely do it if you can.  In any case, start saving at least a small percentage and then try to increase it every year.

Of course, this advice is only applicable to college graduates who have well-paying jobs.  So the first step in retirement planning is to find a job.  I know, that’s easier said than done in many cases.

While I used to oppose the idea of college graduates living at home, I’ve come to believe it can be a way to enable new college graduates to save money and start putting aside money for retirement at an earlier age.  This is especially true in high COL areas where renting an apartment can cost well over half your income.

To learn more on this topic, read Jonathan Clements’ “Financial Advice for New College Grads”.

April 7, 2015

Path to prestigious job may require a prestigious college degree

by Grace

A growing number of employers say a degree from a prestigious college counts less than it once did. But among elite finance and management-consulting firms—which offer some of the highest starting salaries for new graduates—an alma mater still matters. That puts students from less-selective schools at a disadvantage, career-services officers and students say.

A tale of two students demonstrates how the path to prestigious Wall Street jobs is easier when the starting point is an Ivy League school.

To land a summer job on Wall Street this year, Fairfield University junior Matthew Edgar sent 300 emails, made dozens of phone calls and several networking trips to New York banks from the Connecticut campus.

Darwin Li had a more direct route: The Princeton University junior applied online for positions and attended campus information sessions where company recruiters walked him through the application process and the firm’s culture.

The preferred schools vary depending on different career paths, but for Wall Street “they tend to include Ivy League schools and a handful of other elite institutions, such as Stanford University”.  Other careers have their own list of preferred schools, so the message to students with specific job goals is to do your research.

Students who do not attend preferred schools are not shut out completely, but they have to work harder.

For students at nontarget schools, the trick is finding a way into that pool. Without recruiters on campus, they must initiate a blitz of emails, calls and messages through networking sites like LinkedIn to find a banker or consultant willing to flag their application to recruiters.

Related:  If you want a job at an elite firm . . .

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Lindsay Gellman, “How 300 Emails Led to a Summer Job on Wall Street”, Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2015.

April 1, 2015

Pharmacy graduates are finding a softer job market

by Grace

One of America’s most reliable professions is producing too many graduates and not enough jobs

A few years ago, students enrolling in college as pharmacy majors had high hopes about lucrative careers.  Now the outlook is not so rosy.

… Even as the economy struggled in the mid-aughts, pharmacy graduates easily found big salaries, 9-to-5 jobs, and the respect that came along with handling medications. Nicholas Popovich, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, tells me that, “Some signing bonuses even involved a car, that type of thing.”

While New Republic labeled pharmacy careers to be “on the verge of a crisis”, the details don’t necessarily indicate the problem has risen to crisis level.

  • There has been a 70% increase in first-professional PharmD degree graduates from 2001 to 2011 due to the opening of new pharmacy schools and the expansion of existing programs.
  • The aggregate demand index (ADI), a tool that tracks the difficulty of filling pharmacy positions nationally, had remained relatively steady at a level of ADI = 4 (moderate demand) from 2002 to 2008 but has had a downward trend closer to 3 (demand in balance with supply) in more recent years, with several states in the Northeast region having their ADI dip below 3.
  • The anticipated role expansion and demand for pharmacists to provide direct patient care services has not come to fruition, causing a lower than expected creation of new pharmacist jobs.
  • The bottom line is that the supply of new pharmacists seems to be outpacing the creation of new jobs because the role of pharmacists has not changed as expected when pharmacy workforce needs were projected in 2001.

The number of pharmacy schools has almost doubled over 20 years alongside exuberant predictions about a boom in jobs.

… PharmD students are cash cows, taking on hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and often committing to a longer course of study…

Meanwhile, graduates dealing with average debt loads of over $130,000 find themselves in a growing competition for jobs.

The scarcity of jobs is regional, with the Northeast and New York in particular experiencing a surplus of pharmacists.

AGGREGATE DEMAND INDEX 10-YEAR TREND

20150329.COCPharmJobsTrend2

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 Katie Zavadski, “The Pharmacy School Bubble Is About to Burst”, New Republic, September 29, 2014.

Randy P. McDonough, “Improving patient care, securing our role in health care: The time is now!”, American Pharmacists Association, November 01, 2014.

March 24, 2015

Are older workers crowding out job opportunities for young people?

by Grace

Older workers’ expanding participation in the labor force may be at the expense of employment opportunities for younger workers. 

One of the major trends in the U.S. workforce during the early 21st century is seniors’ expanding participation in the labor force. People who qualify for AARP membership have been retiring later and are more likely to be in the labor force now than people the same age were during the 1990s tech boom.

There have been significant changes for all seniors, but the increase is most striking among people 65 and older. For 75-year-olds, labor-force participation has risen to 14 percent from 9 percent since 2000. The number of people age 65 to 79 in the workforce has grown by 3.5 million. Of that, 1.6 million is due to the growing population in that age group, and 1.9 million is due to the increased propensity to work.

Employment helps seniors remain self sufficient.

The United States is going to be a very different place, demographically, for the next 30 years. Seniors putting in more years at the office will help ease that transition, cover a small part of Social Security’s deficit, and allow more older Americans self-sufficiency in their retirement.


The sliding labor participation rate for younger workers is clear.

20150321. COCLaborParticipationOldYoung1


The question remains how much this affects younger workers who are still suffering during this jobless recovery.

…workers 55 and under still have about 2 more million jobs to go before they recover all the jobs losses since the start of the great global depression …

20150321. COCJoblessRecoveryOldYoungWorkers1

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Salim Furth, “What Percent of 75-Year-Olds Are Still Working?”, The Daily Signal, March 21, 2015.

Tyler Durden, “Old vs Young: The Story Of America’s Two Labor Markets”, Zero Hedge, January 9, 2015.

March 13, 2015

Students are ‘fleeing’ law schools and journalism, but rushing into engineering

by Grace

Enrollment slumps in law schools and college journalism programs, but booms in engineering.

US students are fleeing law schools and pouring into engineering

… US law school enrollment is 93% of what it was in 2005, and the decline has accelerated since 2012:

20150312.COCLawSchoolEnrollmentDecline1

Engineering is the one graduate discipline that’s really exploded—enrollment has grown by 38% since 2005. It has substantially outpaced medical school, the second fastest growing graduate discipline, which has grow by 11% over the same period.

The shift reflects that, in the US, engineering degrees yield the highest salary bumps and the lowest unemployment rates:

20150312.COCEngineeringSchoolEnrollmentRise1


Journalism schools are seeing a decline.

Columbia Will Shrink Journalism School as Media Woes Mount
Class Size Rose in Recession, Now Receding Again

Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism will reduce its class size and cut about six positions from its staff as the news industry retrenches.

The school will gradually reduce enrollment over several years and has already stopped filling some vacant faculty positions, Steve Coll, dean of the school since 2013, said in an e-mail to students, faculty and staff today.

Interest in computer science is booming.

Columbia is seeing increased demand for training in digital media, Ms. Fishman said, adding that applications for the school’s dual degree in journalism and computer science were up 47% this year.

What’s a student to do?

Boom and bust cycles make for challenging career choices, but it’s not usually wise to pick a college major based on today’s hot jobs”.

Related:  “Dropping oil prices create concern for petroleum engineering students”

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Max Nisen, “US students are fleeing law schools and pouring into engineering”, Quartz, March 10, 2015.

“Columbia Will Shrink Journalism School as Media Woes Mount”, AdAge, March 11, 2015.

March 10, 2015

Which are the ‘altruistic’ professions that deserve special treatment?

by Grace

High school history teacher Kate LeSueur wrote that she wishes to “enlighten” us “on the discrepancy between the price of my education and the salary of an altruistic career such that of an educator”.

She compared a master’s in education with a master’s of business administration, pointing out that individuals with MBA degrees typically enjoy substantially higher salaries and lower student debt levels.

Why is it that we both went to school for the same amount of time and both earned master’s, yet my degree costs more and I get paid significantly less? I am not arguing that I deserve $90,000 a year — only that the cost of my education should be comparable to my salary. Society expects us to accept a fate guaranteeing small paychecks and large student loan bills. I am writing to say, America, we aren’t going to accept it much longer.

I find it hard to accept the rather sweeping statement that teaching is an altruistic career.  Although teacher unions have long maintained the message that all their efforts are “for the children”, I don’t buy it.  I’m not claiming that teaching is rampant with evil, money-hungry people, but neither are most other professions.  A typical MBA working to keep his employer profitable is no less deserving of special adoration than is a typical teacher.  And many people who earn generous salaries show their altruism in other ways, such as donating their time and money to worthy causes.

Furthermore, it’s troubling when the government gets in the business of deciding which jobs deserve special treatment, like the most generous Income Based Repayment benefits that are reserved for government and nonprofit employees.  George Leef points out the consequences of this politicized meddling.

… Whenever the government gets involved in an activity that is not properly any of its business, we get the infamous trio: waste, fraud, abuse, and then the politicians feel the need to meddle still more in an effort to solve the problems they’ve created. The federal student-aid programs are a perfect illustration. Repayment of loans is being politicized, with easy terms for students provided they make the “right” choices in employment. That will only further misallocate resources and help to keep the higher-education bubble inflated.

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Kate LeSueur, “The price of a good education, $80K and counting”, cleveland.com, March 01, 2015.

March 9, 2015

Highly educated U.S. millennials lag behind foreign peers in key skills

by Grace

The most highly educated generation in the United States compares poorly with international peers in literacy and numeracy skills.

Despite having the highest levels of educational attainment of any previous generation, America’s millennials, on average, demonstrate weak skills in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments compared to their international peers. This finding from a new study by Educational Testing Service (ETS) raises the question of whether we can thrive as a nation when a large segment of our society lacks the skills required for higher-level employment and meaningful engagement in our democracy.

America’s Skills Challenge: Millennials and the Future uses data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) to compare the U.S. to 21 other member countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The report focuses on young adults born after 1980 who were 16–34 years of age at the time of the assessment. PIAAC measured adult skills across three domains: literacy, numeracy and problem solving in a technology-rich environment (PS-TRE).

They also compare poorly with earlier generations in the U.S. 

… Equally troubling is that these findings represent a decrease in literacy and numeracy skills when compared to results from previous years of U.S. adult surveys. As a country, simply providing more education may not be the answer. There needs to be a greater focus on skills — not just educational attainment — or we are likely to experience adverse consequences that could undermine the fabric of our democracy and community.

Even the best and the brightest in the U.S. compare poorly with their international peers.

Additionally, the data reveal that even our best performing and most educated millennials, those who are native born, and those with the greatest economic advantage in relative terms, do not perform favorably in comparison to their peers internationally. In fact, in numeracy, the U.S.’s top performing millennials scored lower than top-performing millennials in 15 of the 22 participating countries, indicating that the skills challenge is systemic. Low-scoring U.S. millennials ranked last and scored lower than their peers in 19 participating countries.

Have we misplaced our faith in more years of schooling, degrees, credentials, and certificates”?

Most troubling is that our faith in more years of schooling, degrees, credentials, and certificates to produce better outcomes is vividly shown to be misplaced. More time in school is not producing Americans with more or better skills. The people who will work, earn, support families, create jobs, make policy, take leadership positions, and be entrusted generally with protecting, defending, and continuing our democracy are less prepared to do so than any generation in American history.

America’s millenials are “overeducated and unprepared”

This may be related:

Baby Boomers’ kids are doing worse than their parents

The Typical Millennial Is $2,000 Poorer Than His Parents at This Age

More young people are living in poverty and fewer have jobs compared their parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers, in 1980.

Even though a higher percentage of today’s young people have college degrees, more live in poverty.

Also:  Lack of learning in college is a reason for poor job prospects

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Madeline J. Goodman, Anita M. Sands, Richard J. Coley, America’s Skills Challenge: Millennials and the Future, Educational Testing Service, February 2015.

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March 3, 2015

Lack of learning in college is a reason for poor job prospects

by Grace

Recent college graduates may not realize that a reason for their faltering careers could be because they have been “hamstrung by their lack of learning” in school.  But deciding how to assess what they learned in college is not straightforward.

A follow-up study from the authors of “Academically Adrift,” a book that showed how “many students experience ‘limited or no learning’” in college, tracked the same students into their lives after graduation.  As part of the original study , students had taken the Collegiate Learning Assessment (C.L.A.), “a test of critical thinking, analytic reasoning and communications skills”.

Even after statistically controlling for students’ sociodemographic characteristics, college majors and college selectivity, those who finished school with high C.L.A. scores were significantly less likely to be unemployed than those who had low C.L.A. scores. The difference was even larger when it came to success in the workplace. Low-C.L.A. graduates were twice as likely as high-C.L.A. graduates to lose their jobs between 2010 and 2011, suggesting that employers can tell who got a good college education and who didn’t. Low-C.L.A. graduates were also 50 percent more likely to end up in an unskilled occupation, and were less likely to be satisfied with their jobs.ge, they improved less than half of one standard deviation. For many, the results were much worse. One-third improved by less than a single point on a 100-point scale during four years of college.

The C.L.A. has gained the support of employers who say grades can be misleading and that they have grown skeptical of college credentials”.

Even as students spend more on tuition—and take on increasing debt to pay for it—they are earning diplomas whose value is harder to calculate. Studies show that grade-point averages, or GPAs, have been rising steadily for decades, but employers feel many new graduates aren’t prepared for the workforce.

Over a hundred colleges participate in CLA+, a test-based program that enables graduates to prove their skills to potential employers.  Some schools like California Polytechnic State University promote this test for its benefits to individual students, while other schools focus more on the CLA+ an assessment that shows the overall return on value they provide.

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels is in the middle of a battle having to do with the CLA+ at his school.

Two years into the job, Daniels has arrived at a major impasse with Purdue’s faculty: how to prove that students are actually learning something while at the university. Backed by Purdue’s Board of Trustees and inspired by the work of Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa (the authors of Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses) and others who argue that undergraduates aren’t learning crucial critical thinking skills, Daniels says the university must be accountable to students, parents, taxpayers and policy makers. He’s tasked a faculty body with choosing just how Purdue will assess gains in critical thinking and other skills after four years there, and he wants to start the assessment process soon — by the fall.

Purdue wants the student growth assessment “for the same reason that hundreds of other universities are already doing this — that research has shown that in some cases little to no intellectual growth occurs during the college years,” … “And the marketplace is saying emphatically that they find far too many college graduates lacking in critical thinking and communication skills and problem solving, etcetera.”

The CLA+ is not free of controversy.

… A 2013 study, for example, found that student performance on such tests varies widely based on motivation for taking the test. In other words, a student who has no reason to do well on the test might not take it seriously, and therefore can skew the results negatively for the institution. Others have questioned the appropriateness of basing assessment on small groups of students and whether the gains are likely to be notable at a university like Purdue that admits well-prepared students.

The most popular comment from the Purdue article made a good point.

Yes. It is time that universities and colleges follow the NCLB model on testing because it has worked so well….

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Kevin Carey, “The Economic Price of Colleges’ Failures”, New York Times, September 2, 2014.

Douglas Belkin, “Are You Ready for the Post-College SAT?”, Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2013.

Colleen Flaherty, “Test Anxiety”, Inside Higher Ed, January 28, 2015.

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