April 30, 2008 – Although the national economy has hit some speed bumps, this year’s graduates should still find that they are eagerly awaited in the labor market. This is the healthiest job market in three years, according to many of the employers who are recruiting members of the class of 2008.
According to an annual survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers still plan to hire 16 percent more new college graduates in 2008 than they did in 2007. While this may end up being an optimistic projection for this year, new graduates will still be in demand to fill the positions of retiring baby boomers.
“Employers are optimistic about hiring,” says Andrea Koncz, NACE employment information manager. “But don’t sit back and wait for an employer to find you. The better job market doesn’t mean finding a first job will be an easy ride,” she says. “If you want a job at or soon after graduation, you’ll need to begin your job search early and work hard to find the right job.”
According to NACE, hiring projections are strong across the board, regardless of industry, economic sector or geographic region. Hiring expectations are especially strong in the Midwest, where employers anticipate hiring 25 percent more new college graduates this year. Competition is expected to be particularly fierce for graduates in the engineering, computer science, and accounting fields.
Closer to home, the Department of Workforce Services’ recently released Job Vacancy Study reveals that there is considerable local demand for college graduates. In metropolitan Utah, which because of its size approximates statewide demand, there are high vacancy rates for accountants and auditors, computer software engineers, geoscientists, and school counselors.
The top 10 bachelor’s degrees in demand, according to the NACE 2008 Job Outlook, are:
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Computer Science
- Business Administration/Management
- Information Sciences and Systems
- Marketing/Marketing Management
- Computer Engineering
- Management Information Systems
- Business Data Processing
Employers plan to target business, engineering and computer-related degrees at the master’s level and at the doctorate level will mainly target computer engineering and electrical engineering graduates, followed by computer science, mechanical engineering and business administration/management.
The demand for associate degree graduates has fallen slightly this year. In 2005-06, 33 percent of employers said they would hire two-year graduates; in 2006-07, it was 39 percent of employers. This year, only 27 percent plan to hire associate degree graduates.
“Education and a college degree is still the best investment you can make,” says Stan Inman with U of U Career Services. “For each year of post-high school education, students can expect a 15 to 20 percent increase in compensation, which calculated over a lifetime is extremely significant. In fact, the ten highest paying occupations in Utah all require a degree.”
And what if that degree is not listed in the top ten? Inman says not to worry. Students gain skills in their time at university which are highly prized by employers. “While having specialized skills may make it easier to land a specific position, playing to those general skills that you picked up at school, like team work, problem solving, flexibility and computer skills, will greatly improve your chances of landing the job you want.”
The U’s Career Services Library, which contains information on a wide variety of topics, including career/major research, job search strategies and employment trends, is open to students, faculty and staff as well as the general public. U graduates may use these resources indefinitely, although after two years they are charged a nominal fee for any alumni career counseling. For more information on career trends and opportunities for college graduates, visit the University of Utah’s Career Library, 350 Student Services Building, open weekdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., call 801-581-6186 or visit http://careers.utah.edu/.