Chances are when you talk with a new college graduate or a member of their family, you will learn they or someone close to them can’t find a job in the field their college degree has prepared them for. A look at the statistics tells us why.
- An analysis of the 2011 Current Population Survey data by Northeastern University researchers found “Half of recent college grads underemployed or jobless” “About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed.”
- A New York Times editorial reports that “research shows that nearly 40 percent of working recent graduates are in jobs that do not require a college degree, compared with roughly 30 percent before the onset of the recession in 2007.” According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, they are working, but as a result, they take jobs as such as mechanic and repairers, construction workers, motor vehicle operators, retail sales personnel, cashiers, receptionists, and waiters and waitresses.
Compounding the situation for recent grads is that not being able to find work or working at jobs low pay makes paying their student debt difficult or impossible. Student debt of graduating seniors in 2010 averaged $25,250. As a consequence 85% of graduates move back home with parents after college and are unable to afford to get married, have children, buy homes – all of which are needed to maintain consumer spending. Graduates who fall behind on their payments or default on their loans find their indebtedness only increases and is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. In a recent USA Today article, a graduate is quoted as saying, “It’s going to create a generation of wage slavery.” Evidence of this is a report from CNN that the Federal Reserves over 7 million people are still paying student loan debt.
Though the economy is not providing well-paying jobs, there is an alternative: they can create their own jobs.
Some graduates who have participated in the growing number of college entrepreneur programs can move immediately into starting a business, particularly one in technology. Other grads can enter a program such as those offered by the Founder Institute, which was featured in a New York Times article entitled Want to Graduate? First, Create a Company. The Founders program takes four months and the tuition only $1000. Still others can benefit from counseling and training available from Small Business Development Centers and online and local training programs. Busgate.org is a gateway to many such government and nonprofit programs. Whether one thinks of themselves as starting a business or creating a job for themselves, resources are available to help them.
One task none of these programs can do for you, however, is deciding what kind of enterprise to undertake. That will be up to you. Here are some directions to look:
- Look for growing fields, such as the rapid transition to mobile
- Find ways to capitalize on new technology that disrupts existing ways of making and distributing things with accessories, service or training.
- Notice what you and other people have problems with, complain about or need that that cannot find help with either in person or with an app.
- Consider offering services in underserved communities, particularly ones away from the central city.
- Establish a fee for helping others with something you know well – a skill, a talent, a hobby.
- If you don’t have the technical skills for something of interest, but have other skills to contribute, seek out collaborations with people who have the skills you are missing.
- Make the most of new laws that create needs for consultants, training, products, and apps.
Finding a sustainable livelihood today is more of a challenge than it was when a college education was the ticket to a good job, but working for yourself can be rewarding in ways you’ll never find in the job world.
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