Who is responsible for underemployment?

By Angie Burkhart |Staff Writer|

P1020308Employers and college graduates are equally responsible for high unemployment and underemployment rates among college graduates as colleges and universities are.

“About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s-degree holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years,” reports the Associated Press.

This statistic is alarming, and I believe some are quick to point the finger at colleges and universities while overlooking other important culprits.

I believe the companies doing the hiring play a large role in these unemployment rates.

“For our nation’s youngest workers, as well as for the workforce at large, there is a real need for employers to reexamine how they hire, train, and develop their employees,” stated Katherine Lavelle from Accenture, the global management consulting firm that conducted the study.

It seems that more and more companies are overlooking recent college graduates due to lack of experience, and passing off the responsibility of job training onto colleges and universities.

“They’d prefer to hire candidates with industry-specific skills that help them hit the ground running, even if those candidates have less potential for future growth,” said Gloria Larson, President of Bentley University.

Michael Bledsoe, a college graduate interviewed by the Associated Press spoke about his experience with his job search and underemployment, saying employers often “questioned his lack of experience, or the practical worth of his major.”

Obviously the majority of individuals who are fresh out of college have not had much experience outside of internships, but this is not reason to question the credibility of their degree.

I believe colleges and universities are responsible for nurturing intelligent, critical thinking individuals, and it is the company’s responsibility to manage job training.

Employers need to practice open-mindedness and confidence that our school systems have created competent individuals who are ready to enter the workforce.

I think we have also overlooked the role college graduates play in these statistics.

When we scale it down to CSUSB students, I don’t believe very many students are taking advantage of the resources that are available to them.

CSUSB alumni Jacob Szerlip, who graduated last year and struggled with job placement, said, “Not once throughout my time in college did a counselor or professor discuss life following graduation. It was always present discussion upon subjects in my major, not job placement.”

Szerlip also admitted that during his time at CSUSB, he did not visit the Career Center.

The CSUSB Career Center offers a variety of tools that are of great value to students yet, in my opinion, are under-utilized, from resume writing, job search, and interviewing workshops, to help finding internships and graduate schools.

CSUSB Career Center’s new Interim Director, Christina Rodriguez, recognizes a lack of student traffic in the Career Center, and said, “We will be doing a lot more engagement with students.”

P1020312Rodriguez also recommends that students visit the Career Center during their freshman year, and continue to make visits throughout their schooling in order to reap the benefits and build relationships with their staff.

I believe we can only begin to address these unemployment and underemployment rates of college grads when we stop pointing fingers and start taking responsibility for our role in these statistics.



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