Glad news for 2017 college graduates: According to a new study, college grads are entering the best job market in ten years
The recent survey (in which almost 2,400 hiring managers and HR professionals were polled) shows that 74% of employers plan to hire college grads this year—up from 67% last year. Half of them (50%) plan to offer higher wages than they offered last year, whereas in 2016, a mere 37% of employers were planning on these higher salaries. And while last year, only 27% of grad-hiring employers offered starting salaries of $50K minimum, this year that number has risen to 40% of employers.
In other words, 2017 is a fantastic year to start building a career—especially if graduates focused on one of the following majors, cited by employers as the most in-demand majors at their organizations:
- Business – 30%
- Engineering – 26%
- Computer and Information Sciences – 23%
- Engineering Technologies – 16%
- Communications Technologies – 13%
- Math and Statistics – 11%
- Construction Trades – 11%
- Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences – 10%
- Science Technologies – 9%
- Architecture and Planning – 8%
- Communication and Journalism – 7%
- Mechanic and Repair Technologies – 7%
- Social Sciences – 6%
- Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities – 6%
- Law and Legal Studies – 5%
- Education – 5%
A few caveats, however. The survey confirmed yet again a long-held opinion among many employers: New college grads are not entirely ready for the workforce. In 2016, 24% of employers thought graduates lacked key skills, and although that number has shrunk to only 17% of employers in 2017, the fact remains: Numerous businesses see a mismatch between the skills they need and graduates’ actual abilities.
What skills in particular? Here’s the rundown. As other studies have also proved, technical skills tend to be well covered—it’s the soft skills that need significant work.
- People skills: 50%
- Problem-solving: 45%
- Teamwork: 39%
- Oral communication: 39%
- Leadership: 38%
- Written communication: 35%
- Creative thinking: 34%
- Project management: 26%
- Research and analysis: 17%
- Computer and technical: 17%
- Math: 14%
Colleges and currently enrolled students alike can draw action items based on these survey results. Students should check their majors and skills against these lists to gauge the ease with which they might land a job post graduation or even earlier, since the majority (60%) of employers who intend to hire graduates are planning to extend job offers before students have completed their studies.
As for colleges, they—as many have already done—should continue to focus on demonstrating program outcomes. If their students pursue business or engineering, for example, they should know they are earning a top-flight degree, as determined by employer demand.
And both students and colleges should take this opportunity to remember that balancing their tech studies with a dose of the soft skills (such as problem-solving and oral communication) will help them become the well-rounded, multi-purpose employee that organizations so desperately need. Engineering is great. But don’t leave your people skills behind.