This blog was originally posted on talentmgt.com.
A recent article by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic, “The Real Reason That Young People Can’t Find Jobs,” addresses a minor debate sparked by a Wall Street Journal op-ed on the high unemployment of young Americans and the state of entry-level jobs. Thompson, a senior editor at The Atlantic, counters in his article some of the ideas laid out in the WSJ piece and attributes the problem to completely different factors.
Among those is a graph depicting youth unemployment rates during the past 30 years where he notes the “overall youth unemployment rate hasn’t budged from its historical average,” and extrapolates there isn’t anything unusually wrong with the youth job market today (the article goes deeper into the reasons why). Where the larger problem lies is the growing number of recent graduates who are underemployed — working jobs that don’t require the degree they just earned. Thompson says, “The most important concern today shouldn’t be whether they find work, but what kind of work they find.”
I drew a parallel here to a recent presentation I heard by CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson, who gave an update on the mixed job market recovery at the company’s eighth annual Staffing and Recruiting Executive Summit. He described what he called a “post-secondary problem” where access to college for many is obstructed by enormous cost and debt. There is $1 trillion in student loans outstanding, with 7 out of 10 undergrads receiving state, federal or institutional assistance in 2012.
The increasing cost of a college education is resulting in fewer high school graduates seeking post-secondary degrees. Enrollment fell from 21.4 million to 19.9 million in 2012, and approximately 300,000 fewer students enrolled in college in the fall of 2013 compared to 2012. Add to that, nearly half of those who enroll leave college without a degree. Experts say the critical undersupply of skilled labor in the U.S. to fill current and future jobs is getting worse, particularly in IT and health care.
Read the full piece “Filling a Different Pipeline for Middle-Skilled Talent”.