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College grads' job outlook: Bleak with a slight chance of work

After several months or longer of searching for a job, many are choosing to return for more schooling.

The job search already is months old for some. For others, more schooling is the answer as their peers struggle to find a foothold in a new career. And while experts say it's still difficult to quantify the problem, they agree things aren't looking good for recent grads.

The job market and economic slide is "not something I've seen in my 20-year professional career — and it's not anything that a lot of people have seen in their lifetime," said Linda Peacock-Landrum, director of career services at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

"Top 5 Reasons to Go Back to School During a Recession"

Recessions can be a persuasive case to reevaluate your current career path, your income, even your current employment status. If your career path hasn't been as rewarding as you had thought, it might be time to change careers. If your income seems too low, a college degree or graduate degree will definitely improve your income. Finally, if you've been laid off as a result of the recession, going back to school can perhaps be the best investment you might make.

"A Recession May Be a Time to Go Back to School"

If a graduate degree makes sense generally for your career, this period of unemployment could be seen as a window of opportunity, said Jeffrey A. Heath, a managing director of the LandstoneGroup in Manhattan, an affiliate of the recruitment firm MRINetwork.

"Let’s say you’ve spent 10 years in finance and you want to stay in this career," Mr. Heath said. "In a couple of years the market will be healthier and you will have your master’s degree," he said.

Being unemployed for a prolonged period can take a psychological toll, Mr. Heath said. "People begin questioning their value, often for the first time in their lives. Knowing you’re working toward something will make you feel better."

"When Times Get Tough, Adults Go Back to School"

Peter Smith, Ed.D., is the Senior Vice President for Academic Strategies and Development at Kaplan Higher Education. He is also a regular contributor to the The United States Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable recently polled CEOs to find out what qualities they wanted in new employees. At the top of the list, it was specified that they wanted workers who could adapt to change, had a global mindset, were critical thinkers and had solid writing skills. The CEOs understand that the skills required for jobs will change, but they want workers who can think and thinkers who can work. These are skills typically learned in college.

Education provides people with the ability to compete for better, higher-paying and more highly skilled jobs. When the economy is in turmoil and there are more job candidates competing for fewer positions, education could be a key factor in deciding who gets the job.

Additionally, during tough economic times, people tend to return to school to sharpen their skills. Earning a certificate or degree in a specialized skill often makes an individual stand out amongst his or her peers, which improves job security and one’s ability to compete in the global economy.

Return to Main Recession-Proofing Page

Rethinking Higher Education Blog


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