Unemployment is a grave concern for college students. Earning a college degree is an expensive proposition; students often accumulate large debts in finishing their education and require employment to sustain themselves. During periods of economic instability, finding a job is an issue for most people. However, statistics indicate that an individual’s level of education may be crucial in gaining employment. This paper will show that although college graduates are more likely to be employed in periods of recession, this may not be sustainable in the long term.
Why College Graduates Fare Well
Catherine Rampell’s article on the topic of employment for college-educated citizens states that college students are much more likely to be employed than people without higher education (Rampell). Yearly statistics on unemployment show that over the last 8 years, the percentage of unemployment in the United States has gradually decreased (Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Unemployment Rate”). In addition, citizens who have graduated from college have always represented a smaller percentage than those having less education (Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Unemployment Rate: College Graduates”).
Rampell explains this trend in terms of a change in the way businesses began to attract more educated applicants because the latter needed work (Rampell). Positions that require medium-level education are being filled by people having a college education, and positions requiring low-level education are then filled by people who have a medium-level education. This change, however, leads to a much smaller pool of available employment options for less-educated people.
Multiple negative outcomes for this change are evident. The most obvious is in the way uneducated people are left without employment. As previously stated, the disparity in employment between educated and uneducated citizens has always been high. However, when educated people start to fill jobs that do not require education, uneducated workers lose employment opportunities. Rampell’s article states that a large percentage of service jobs, including food services, are now filled with educated employees.
People who have spent years on studies in complex, specialized fields are now filling positions that do not exercise their knowledge and skills. This situation can be demoralizing and lead to a sense of unfulfillment. Furthermore, the wages those jobs provide do not take into consideration the need to pay off college loans. Therefore, college-educated people are forced to live on lower funds than the jobs provide. Rampell asserts that when the United States economy improves, college-educated people will be able to improve their condition (Rampell).
However, this might not be a guaranteed solution to their issues. While the job market is currently more favorable than it was during the recent recession, the situation is not entirely different. Educated people are still likely to work in jobs unrelated to their education. The current political climate does not have a focus on resolving this concern, and the problem of employment for less-educated citizens is receiving even less attention.
Even if this issue will eventually result in a positive outcome and college-educated people start to recover financially in a more beneficial economic environment, their jobs are far from secure. In recent years, advances in neural networking, 3D printing, robotics, and mobile computing have shown great potential in job automation. The targets for automation are in most cases located in the service and retail sectors.
Projects for fully automated malls, stores, and delivery services are already being tested, and it will not take long for these options to become a more commercially viable solution than employing living persons. Mass implementation of such technologies will no doubt lead to unrest among those they are designed to replace, but it is unlikely that the workers themselves would be able to stop it. Millions will lose their jobs and face even fewer prospects for employment. College graduates who cannot find specialized jobs will remain unemployed, and with college loans exerting a constant drain on their resources, they will not be likely to be able to fully support themselves.
Subsequently, new generations of college-educated people entering the job market will have to contend with finding work but will not have the option of choosing a lower-level job. Automation is likely to increase unemployment overall, but it may have a larger effect on college-educated people than in previous years. Moreover, if it proves successful, it might spread to other industries, further reducing job opportunities.
The Value of College Education
The cost of a college education, even in a relatively low-priced institution, is high. Many students are forced to take out loans to pay for their education, which can take years to pay off in the absence of a high-paying job. The stress imposed by difficult curriculum may also have a negative effect on the psychological condition of the student. In the worst cases, students have committed suicide after failing tests or from the stress of exams.
A college education is an expensive and difficult goal to attain, and at times it may seem as if it is not worth the trouble. However, this is not the case. Despite the difficulty and the requirement to pay excessive amounts of money, a college education is still extremely valuable, and in consideration of the change in the job market as described in the article, perhaps it is even more valuable than before.
A college education still offers a primary advantage in gaining employment and building a career. During the interview process, education level can be used to judge an individual’s commitment and professionalism. An unfinished education might suggest that the applicant is less capable of meeting the required tasks and therefore may be less preferable in the eyes of job recruiters. When applying for a specialized job, a high level of education in the related subject matter is essential to be considered as a potential employee. The competition for such positions is always high, and people must pursue any possible advantage to offer the recruiting company.
Moreover, after becoming employed, an educated person is more likely to gain promotion if the individual’s education provides additional skills. For example, a college student hired as an analyst may be promoted to the position of team manager if the individual also has management and leadership education. Starting a career in a position unrelated to one’s educational background may be unsatisfying, but with time, this education may lead to greater achievements and higher-paying jobs. People with a college education have historically earned more money than those without it, and this trend continues to this day. Their job opportunities are much more varied, and the skills they possess are powerful tools for career growth. Therefore, the value of a college education is still high despite the downsides.
Employment is essential for college-educated people. Currently, workers have resolved this need through filling positions that previously did not require a high level of education. However, this solution has created a number of problems. People lacking formal education are now less likely to find a job. College-educated individuals must accept the reality of lower wages that may not allow them to live a full life due to the burden of college loans, and the jobs they currently have are not secure because automation may lead to future unemployment. While college currently allows for a greater chance of employment overall, higher education does not guarantee success. Nevertheless, the issue is not in the college education itself but in the opportunities available to students to work at the jobs they have studied to attain.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Unemployment Rate.” United States Department of Labor, 2018. Web.
—. “Unemployment Rate: College Graduates: Bachelor’s Degree and Higher, 25 Years and Over.” FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 2018. Web.
Rampell, Catherine. “College Graduates Fare Well in Jobs Market, Even Through Recession.” The New York Times. 2013. Web.