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Student Job Prospects: College Graduates and Today's Economy

Not a day goes by without word of "the economy" seeping into someone's thoughts or conversations. At the forefront of these discussions are college graduates, the future of the economy. Today's graduates are unprepared and lack the skills needed to successful navigate today's economic climate. Why? There are two major reasons for this. First, many businesses refuse to innovate, instead drawing upon proven talent already in the workforce. Second, undergraduate programs, and a number of graduate programs, do not provide the training most employers look for when seeking qualified applicants.

When a new position becomes open for skilled labor, defined as labor requiring a degree, employers make it next to impossible for recent graduates to apply with any chance of success. The job postings list "multiple years of experience" in the field as a prerequisite for employment. This stipulation has wide-ranging consequences.

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The only people who can hope to meet this requirement are those already in the field, and who have been working in the field for years. Employers design their applications towards this demographic, either out of a genuine need for years of experience, or out of an unwillingness to properly train recent graduates and an unwillingness to innovate. New blood in any field brings new information, techniques, and ways of looking at problems and solutions to those problems.

Employers that demand years of experience simply eliminate a great percentage of potential applicants based off of that one criteria. A number of those qualified for the job in question, those that do have years of experience, are either burnt out or stuck in their ways. In essence, the employers who follow this draconian system shoot themselves in the foot. Eventually, when they are unable to keep up in an evolving economy, these businesses will realize the error of their ways. But, at that point, it will be too late and the world, and economy, will have moved on.

This is not so much that college graduates do not have the skills needed for today's economy, it's that they do not meet stipulations by employers in today's economy. They are not given the opportunity to succeed. Today's economy is unwelcoming to newcomers to the game, and that is an issue.

The requirement for "multiple years of experience" is not only the fault of employers for stipulating. It is, after all is said and done, their right to demand whatever qualifications they see as necessary to the performance of any position. The blame also rests with college undergraduate and graduate programs. More often than not, schools provide too much theoretical training to its students and not enough practical experience. Students graduate with four years' worth of essays and projects, but they have little to no firsthand knowledge of the actual jobs they are otherwise qualified to do. Rather than just have students recite theories, posit arguments in coherent papers, and memorize facts, undergraduate and graduate programs should incorporate classes into their curriculums that provide students with real-life training and experience in their fields.

These two factors, employers demanding impractical experience from applicants and a refusal to accept new blood in their fields, as well as universities delivering inadequate training to their students, have combined to make today's college graduates uncompetitive in today's economy. Graduates could be better served, by both their educational institutions and the economy as whole, to attain the skills necessary to succeed in today's economy.