Half of College Grads Find Either No Work or No Degree-Related Work

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More than half of college students graduating this June can expect to find either no work, or work that doesn’t utilize their freshly minted skills, according to the Associated Press.

Of the 1.5 million bachelor’s degree holders under age 25, more are likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders, or food-service helpers than as engineers, chemists, physicists, or mathematicians. More of them are working in office-related jobs such as receptionists or payroll clerks that in all computer-related jobs put together. Said the AP:

[O]nly three of the 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 job openings are in professions such as retail sales, fast food and truck driving, jobs which aren’t easily replaced by computers…

College graduates who majored in zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities were among the least likely to find jobs appropriate to their education level; those with nursing, teaching, accounting or computer science degrees were among the most likely.

Michael Bledsoe, 23, graduated in 2010 with a degree in creative writing and now works as a "barista" or coffee server in a Seattle, Washington, coffeehouse. When he first graduated, he sent out three or four résumés every day, but those who responded said he lacked any real-world experience and some questioned the practical value of his degree. Bledsoe said, “I don’t even know what I’m looking for. There isn’t much out there.”

Cameron Bawden, 22, who expects to graduate from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in December, has a much more realistic view of the world that awaits: “It’s kind of scary … there are so few jobs.” So he has been busy building his résumé by working on the Las Vegas strip as a food runner as well as doing a marketing internship with a local airline.

But for 24-year-old Kelman Edwards, who just graduated with a degree in biology, the only job he could find was in construction. He said, “I thought my having a biology degree was a gold ticket for me getting into places, but every other job wants you to have previous history. Everyone is telling you, ‘Go to college,’ but when you graduate, it’s kind of an empty cliff.”

Edwards is not alone. A study done by The Chronicle of Higher Education illustrates the world he and his graduate classmates are facing:

  • 482,000 customer service representatives hold at least a bachelor’s degree, along with
  • 317,000 waiters and waitresses
  • 141,000 receptionists
  • 107,000 janitors (5,000 hold PhDs or other doctorates)
  • 85,000 truck drivers
  • 80,000 bartenders
  • 63,000 food preparation workers
  • 62,000 landscapers
  • 59,000 construction workers
  • 49,000 postal workers
  • 37,000 hotel and motel desk clerks, and
  • 18,000 parking lot attendants

The real world that graduates are facing has been predicted for years: more expensive higher-cost education touted as the ticket to high-level work confronted with a shrinking economy where such positions are increasingly hard to find.

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