A Growing Problem: Recent Grads Have a 38.7% “Mal-employment” Rate

Professor Andrew Sum from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Boston’s Northeastern University has done a great deal of research on the effect of the most recent recession on the youngest cohorts in our economy. (I wrote about some of his other research here.)

A recent CNNMoney article highlighted some interesting data from Dr. Sum’s most recent research efforts. And it has to do with the ability of recent college graduates to enter the economy in jobs that require their degrees.

With unemployment still above 7 percent nationally, it’s not hard to understand that young people armed with a newly minted degree and little experience are having a hard time connecting to jobs. People with degrees and lots of experience are having a hard time connecting to jobs.

Missing our post-secondary education goal

While we know that the data regarding the lifetime earnings differential for college graduates is a compelling argument for college attendance, the “mal-employment rate” together with the student debt-load most graduating college seniors are burdened with might be making young people have second thoughts about investing in a four year degree. And that’s bad news.1-college-grads

The Lumina Foundation tracks our progress towards attaining the national goal that 60 percent of Americans obtain a high-quality post-secondary degree or credential by 2025. And in 2011, the last year for which the data are complete, the percentage of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 with two- or four- year college degrees was 38.7 percent.

Our goal is 60 percent. Our current level is 38.7 percent. That’s really bad news.

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Add to this the expectation that 65 percent of U.S. jobs will require some kind of post-secondary education by 2020 – and it’s really, really bad news.

These are difficult data points at the intersection of jobs, education and the talent pipeline. And they should be motivating us – all of us, in or out of HR – to think better about our workforce. Yes, both our organization’s workforce and our nation’s workforce.

“Mal-employment” might be the least of our worries in 2020.

This originally appeared on China Gorman’s blog at ChinaGorman.com

China Gorman is a successful global business executive in the competitive Human Capital Management (HCM) sector. She is a sought-after consultant, speaker and writer bringing the CEO perspective to the challenges of building cultures of humanity for top performance and innovation, and strengthening the business impact of Human Resources.

Well known for her tenure as CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute, COO and interim CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and President of Lee Hecht Harrison, China works with HCM organizations all over the world to enhance their brands and their go-to-market strategies. Additionally, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Jobs for America’s Graduates as well as the Advisory Boards of Elevated Careers, the Workforce Institute at Kronos, and WorldBlu. Addtionally, she chairs the Globoforce WorkHuman Advisory Board and the Universum North America Board. China is the author of the popular blog Data Point Tuesday, and is published and frequently quoted in media properties like Fortune, TLNT, Huffington Post, Inc., Fast Company, U.S. News & World Report and many others.

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