Job Market for College Graduates Remains Strong Despite Clouds Blowing In

Oct 28, 2019

Phil Gardner returns to MSU today for his annual visit. The Recruiting Trends Survey is out. The 49th that Michigan State University has authored. It’s the nation's largest annual look at the job market for college grads.

Employers responding to the annual survey report strong growth in job opportunities for new college graduates for the tenth year running This growth comes despite dark clouds blowing in over the economy.


Spurred by business growth, employee turnover, and retirements, job opportunities will expand by 12 percent across all degree levels. Jobs for associate’s degrees are plentiful for applied engineering, computer/IT, health, and applied technicians with opportunities increasing by 29 percent. Bachelor’s degree opportunities will contribute 10 percent to growth. Employers appear reluctant to hire more costly MBAs and master’s degree graduates as employers expect to cut hiring for these degrees.

Gardner says the job market for this year’s college graduates is “much better than I expected. I thought going into this market there'd be a little more caution in the labor markets. But it seems that employers were a little more confident this year than I expected.”

Garnder says even freshmen need to start thinking about their careers and he discusses some cautions for graduates. He says all employers are seeking T-shaped and power skills. Power skills used to be known as soft skills.

“We’re in the 10th year of a very strong run of labor markets. It's unusual. Don't accept this as a norm and think it's going to keep going. That's not how business cycles. We're on a real extreme, and we have to be prepared that it probably will turn down at some point. But the idea is that these employers are consistent in their message about the kind of people they want. They want people who have engaged in experiences that have broadened them out, that they understand how they work together. We need to understand that students, just because the market's great, doesn’t mean they can just show up and say, 'I'm done. Can I have my job?' It doesn't work that way.

"They have to do the things that are expected of them. They have to have professional work experience. They should engage in different activities, and they should take the time to understand how they weave together. And they have to be proactive."

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