Battle for employment

 As USF prepares to welcome another generation of students, eyes are turning to the job market to determine the chances of landing a meaningful job after graduation. 

The incoming group of freshman was roughly 10 years old when the economy tanked. They’ve grown up in a world full of “we’re not currently hiring” and the constant threat or reminder of recession. 

Getting part-time jobs in high school turned the students into sharks desperately fighting for the few available scraps of chum. Instead of simply competing against their classmates, this generation also had to compete against college graduates who were unable to get jobs worthy of their degrees. 

The recent unemployment rate for college graduates was 5.5 percent, which is a 1.2 percent increase from 2000, according to an article in Saturday’s New York Times. However, that doesn’t mean that all those employed are working at their dream jobs. 

In fact, nearly half of employed college graduates are “underemployed.” Nearly 45 percent of college graduates were working jobs that do not require a college degree, according to an April report by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

That’s right. Instead of taking their business degree and working for a major corporation, degree-holders are stuck flipping patties at Burger King for minimum wage. The number of graduates working in positions for which they are well overqualified has increased to 44 percent, up 6 percent from 2000. 

Obviously, the recession played a large part in reducing the number of jobs available in the workforce. College became not only unaffordable for most, but also necessary to compete for the few high profile careers still available. 

“If you look at the long-term trend, (college tuition) has been rising almost six percent above the rate of inflation,” Ray Franke, a professor of education at the University of Massachusetts Boston, told CNBC. “That’s brought immense pressure from the media and general public, asking whether college is still worth it.” 

Working minimum wage jobs makes it nearly impossible for graduates to repay their loans, which in turn leads to a life of debt. Luckily, the economy has been slowly recovering and the job market has started to once again open up over the last few years. 

Millennials have been taught since elementary school that degrees are necessary to have a successful career. But while the obstacles to obtaining such a career have increased throughout their lifetime, the belief remains true. 

Students have to pay through the ceiling to receive their education and upon graduation will fight tooth and nail to secure places in the job market. However, without those costly degrees, they would be unfit to even compete for most available positions. 

But this generation of students is well aware of the battle ahead of them. Business, education and health profession programs have been among the top fields in which students have received degrees in the last 10 years, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. 

Students are enrolling in programs in which they have the best shot of having successful careers. The game has changed and millennials have evolved to fit the new societal norm. 

Hopefully, as the economy continues to grow, students will begin to once again be able to fully utilize the degrees.