College seniors can look forward to a strong labor market when they graduate, according to a report by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) at Michigan State University (MSU).
To conduct the study, CERI researchers partnered with nearly 200 college and university career centers to survey about 3,300 employers. Participating employers plan to recruit students for full-time positions, internships, and co-ops, but the majority (73%) plan to recruit for full-time positions during the 2018-2019 school year.
Surveyed employers plan to hire nearly 63,500 graduates this year. The industries that expect to expand their hiring of bachelor's degree holders most, along with the rates at which they plan to increase hiring, are:
1. Transportation, +34%
2. Administrative Services, +30%
3. Educational Services, +29%
4. Information Services, +26%
5. Non-profits, +16%
6. Health Care Services, +15%
7. Hospitality, +14%
8. Construction, +10%
9. Retail Trade, +9%
10. (tie) Business, professional & Scientific services, +8%
10. (tie) Agriculture & Natural Resources, +8%
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Overall, employers feel optimistic about recent grads, according to the report. The majority (93%, up four percentage points) described the college labor market as good to excellent.
"Students: This is really good for you," says Phil Garner, the survey author and director of MSU's CERI. "But you need to be prepared to engage employers with the right skills and experiences. Otherwise, preferred employers will pass you up."
Students can set themselves apart from the competition by developing in-demand soft skills. CERI survey respondents said finding candidates with the right soft skills (critical thinking, interpersonal communication, teamwork) is very challenging. Similarly, respondents said finding candidates with the right credentials or technical skills is moderately challenging.
Employers are also taking a closer look at students' professional work and internship experience, notes Gardner. About three-quarters (77%) of respondents say judging the graduates' past workplace performance is an increasing priority in recruitment. "Employers are probing these experiences to determine how the candidate approaches work, the attitudes they bring, and the value they added through their work efforts," writes Gardner (Kozlowski, Detroit News, 10/25; Gardner, CERI Brief Part I, accessed 11/13; Gardner, CERI Brief Part II, accessed 11/13).
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