College grads are less ‘engaged’ at work

Engagement by Education Level

College-educated Americans aren’t as engaged and challenged at work as less-educated workers, a new Gallup survey finds. That’s true for all ages and professions. Those with “some college” or a degree were less likely to say that “at work I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.”

Gallup’s employee engagement index categorizes workers as engaged, not engaged, or actively disengaged. Engaged employees are involved in and enthusiastic about their work. Those who are not engaged are satisfied with their workplaces, but are not emotionally connected to them — and these employees are less likely to put in discretionary effort. Those workers categorized as actively disengaged are emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace, and they jeopardize the performance of their teams.

A majority of college graduates are unengaged — going through the motions — but only 16.7 percent are actively disengaged malcontents, according to Gallup. Not surprisingly, graduates with a managerial or executive job are the most engaged workers.

Many college graduates never took the time to “think carefully about they actually like to do” and what they’re best at, speculates Brandon Busteed, who runs Gallup Education. Then there are “too few jobs for college grads in general, or too many degrees misaligned with the jobs available in the workplace.” In short, the demand for film, theater, anthropology and sociology majors is limited.

At the very least, we have a lot of college graduates getting jobs that don’t put their best talents and skills to work because of a big disconnect between degrees conferred and the jobs available today. At worst, we have a college system that is not helping students accomplish the most fundamental need — getting them closer to what they do best.

Half of recent graduates are in jobs that don’t require a degree, according to a 2012 Gallup/Lumina Foundation poll.

38.7% of adults are college grads

As of 2011, 38.7 percent of working-age Americans had earned a two- or four-year college degree and another 5 percent of adults held a “postsecondary certificate with significant economic value,” reports the Lumina Foundation.

India plans to establish 10,000 community colleges by 2030 to train 500 million young people in job skills. Now young people are turning to private job training centers.

44% underemployment for new grads is OK

44% of Young College Grads Are Underemployed (and That’s Good News), writes Jordan Weissmann in The Atlantic.  In a weak economy, many new graduates have to take jobs that don’t require a college degree, argues Weissmann. It’s worse now “because the economy got fed through a wood chipper during the recession and we still haven’t picked up all the pieces,” not because a bachelor’s degree has lost value.

The unemployment rate among recent college graduates tends to move “in step with unemployment among all working age adults,” he writes. New graduates are having problems because everybody is.
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College graduates during the 80s and early 90s were as likely to be overqualified for their jobs as young graduates today, according to New York Fed President William Dudley. Most graduates then eventually found professional jobs.

The obvious difference between higher education today and in 1990 is the cost of a degree, and the amount of debt students take on to finance it. So while failing to land a college-level job straight out of school might have been tolerable in the past, today it might mean severe financial hardship, especially if students aren’t savvy about how to handle their student debt (three words: Income. Based. Repayment).

There’s evidence that young people who graduate into a recession and start lower on the job ladder never recover completely.

I’d like to see a good survey asking whether collegebound students understand their likely future earnings and loan payments. Do they know the risks? If they did, second- and third-tier private colleges would have to slash tuition or go out of business.

Be deeply suspicious of promises that a bachelor’s degree will raise earnings significantly, warns Tim Donovan on Salon. If the “higher interest rate convinces even a few 18-year-olds not to take on huge debt for that Musical Theater degree, maybe it’s not so bad,” he writes.

When work disappears

When work disappears for all but the well-educated elite, what happens to society?

Salary Surfer predicts future pay after two and five years for an associate degree or certificate in various fields for prospective California community college students.

More Americans are college graduates

More Americans are earning college degrees: 33.5 percent of Americans ages 25 to 29 had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2012, compared with 24.7 percent in 1995, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The number of two-year college degrees, master’s degrees and doctorates has also risen.

Enrollment and graduation rates are up, reports the New York Times. “The recent recession, which pushed more workers of all ages to take shelter on college campuses while the job market was poor, has also played a role.”

However, only about half of first-time college freshmen in 2006 had earned a degree by 2012, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.

Low-income students continue to lag bar behind.  “Only about 1 out of 10 Americans whose parents were in the lowest income quartile held four-year college degrees by age 24 in 2011, compared to 7 in 10 from the highest quartile.

Lumina’s new report, A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, estimates that 38.7 percent of working-age Americans (ages 25-64) held a two- or four-year college degree in 2011. That’s rising, but not fast enough to meet the foundation’s Goal 2025, which aims to increase the percentage of Americans with “high-quality degrees and credentials” to 60 percent in 12 years.

“There are worrisome signs that the demand for high-skilled talent is increasing more rapidly than we’re actually educating people,” said Lumina Foundation CEO Jamie P. Merisotis.

Lumina announced 10 achievement targets to raise the college attainment trend lines.

Educated and unemployed in Europe

Europe’s “youth unemployment crisis” is “truly terrifying,”  writes Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. Overall, EU unemployment is 12.2 percent, but it’s twice that for would-be workers under 25.  Youth unemployment is 56 percent in Spain and 62.5 percent in Greece. “We’ve never seen a generation this educated also be this unemployed,” Thompson observes. Nearly 40 percent of young people in Spain and 30 percent in Greece are college educated.

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The less scary “youth unemployment ratio” — the share of young job seekers divided by the entire population — is 9.7 percent in the EU.  That doesn’t count the young people who’ve given up looking for work, writes Thompson. There are 26 million young”NEETS” (Not Employed, or in Education, or Training) in developed countries, according to the OECD.

The youth unemployment rate in the U.S. was 16 percent in late 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More young Americans (14.8 percent) than young Europeans (13.2 percent) were NEETs in 2011, the last time the OECD issued an estimate. In Italy, 19.5 percent of young people were out of work, out of school and out of luck in 2011, even higher than the numbers in Greece and Spain.

Underemployed grads regret their choices

Most college graduates are underemployed and wish they’d made other choices, conclude two different surveys of young Americans. Not surprisingly, young people who majored in health and STEM fields are doing the best, while liberal arts majors are the most likely to be working in retail and restaurant jobs that don’t require a college degree.

Students who are the first in their families to go to college need help to untangle an increasingly complex financial aid system.

Women earn 58.4% of college degrees

collegegap

For every 100 male college graduates in the class of 13, there are 140 women, the U.S. Education Department estimates. That’s a “stunning” and growing gender gap, writes Mark Perry on AEI Ideas. Since 1982, women have earned 9.7 million more degrees than men.

Do colleges need all those women’s centers? he asks.

College

More entry-level jobs require college degree

One third of employers say they’re hiring college graduates for jobs that used to require a high school diploma.

Colorado: Graduates’ skills don’t match jobs

Four-year college graduates’ skills don’t match available jobs, complained employers in Fort Collins, Colorado. A local liquor company employs three people with masters’ degrees, including a beer stocker with a physics degree.

A college degree is a valuable investment, but the first four to five years after college are “tougher than they’ve ever been,” said Martin Shields, a Colorado State economics professor.

In Massachusetts, community colleges are working with employers to design job training programs in high-demand fields.