Student Life / University

Recruiting Trends Report estimates growth in job market for upcoming year, higher for certain associate degrees

Students graduating this year can expect continued job growth according to Michigan State University’s 42nd Recruiting Trends Report.

The study shows an overall increase in job growth for college graduates of about three percent this year. Comparatively, the expected growth rate is relatively consistent with last year, which reflected a four-percent increase.

Students working toward both bachelor’s and PhD degrees can expect to see an employment increase of five to eight percent, respectively, especially those in marketing, finance, human resources and advertising. However, engineering, accounting and computer science majors are declining slightly from last year.

This decline could be attributed to a number of factors, according to Associate Professor of Computer Science Thomas Ahlswede.

“I’ll guess that much of the increase is in lower-level technician kinds of work, rather than advanced professional positions,” Ahlswede said. “I’m sure those are growing, too, maybe just not quite as fast. Maybe there’s no more room for them to grow.”

The real increase in employment rates doesn’t usually come from the standard four-year university. Associate’s degrees are receiving the most attention with a 31-percent increase in job growth this year—namely those in health care technology, business and computer science and applied engineering.

“We’re projecting a 47-percent increase between now and 2018 for ‘middle-class’ jobs,” Mid Michigan Community College Advancement Director Matt Miller said. “Those are jobs that need more than high school (education) and less than a bachelor’s. While job placement is difficult to track, what we’re seeing is a consistent need for health care as the baby boomer generation continues to age—something that an associate’s degree offers with a more hands-on approach.”

Miller also attributes the demand for associate’s degrees to a new heavy need for technical skills. According to Miller, the job market is seeing a relatively new resurgence in manufacturing due to high retirement rates.

The report doesn’t reflect an increase in all areas, however. Job growth is expected to decline by one percent for students with a Master of Arts or Master of Sciences degree, five percent for professional degrees and six percent for those with a Master of Business Administration.

“Another possibility is that employers have given up their long search for new hires who already have specialized training, since those people mostly don’t exist,” Ahlswede said. “Maybe they are now looking for people who will learn a lot more on the job than was expected in the past.”

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