I was reading an otherwise really good story about education and employment at Yahoo! news when I came across the following sentence:
Most job openings are in professions such as retail sales, fast food and truck driving, jobs which aren’t easily replaced by computers.
Actually, they are, or soon will be. We might need human burger-flippers for a while yet, but technology is already eating deeply into retail jobs (see this post, this one, and this article from the LA Times). And computers, of course, are already driving cars on our roads. Nevada has begun the work of regulating them, and I wonder how long it’ll be before we have automatic trucks as a significant part of our logistics infrastructure. I’ll be surprised it they’re not a business reality within ten years.
The story is headlined “1 in 2 new graduates are jobless or underemployed,” which is a chilling statistic that lines up well with what the New York Times found when it tracked down the Drew University class of 2011. Only 39% of them had full-time jobs.
The current labor market is a very tough one for all kinds of people, including the young and well-educated. The overall low unemployment rate for recent college grads hides the fact that there’s a lot of underemployment among this group.
However, not all undergraduates are sent out into the workforce equal. Some are equipped with majors that are in demand, like healthcare, science, business, education, and, social work. I’d encourage all college students (and their parents) to look at employment statistics when planning their courses of study.
As I’ve said before, it’s great if you want to be an art history major. But throw in an applied math degree, too. Yes, you’ll work harder. But college is a unique and unrepeatable chance to fill up your brain with knowledge and skills. Buckle down and take advantage of it.