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Grads’ job outlook strong

May 15th, 2017

Anecdotal evidence, surveys indicate plethora of positions

By Lisa Green | The Journal Gazette

Jill Robinson graduated from IPFW on Wednesday but is likely to start earning a full-time paycheck in her chosen career field before month's end.

Robinson, a 23-year-old psychology major, said she has landed a job at The Bowen Center, a nonprofit mental health services provider.

“I was looking at job postings constantly, every day,” said Robinson, who worked part-time at IPFW's Career Services office.

She was among the IPFW seniors awarded graduation diplomas last week.

Along with working in Career Services, Robinson said she also worked another part-time job in the human services field. She plans to keep that – she has student loans to repay – when she starts at Bowen Center as a rehabilitation service provider or case manager helping clients with life skills.

Hundreds of other spring college graduates may find a favorable job market, too. The National Association of College Employers' spring job outlook survey found employers anticipate hiring 5 percent more new college graduates from the Class of 2017 than they hired from the Class of 2016.

The increase is down slightly from the original projection of 5.8 percent for the Class of 2017 that employers indicated in the Job Outlook 2017 survey in the fall. But the association said in an April report the hiring projections remain consistent with findings from the last three Job Outlook surveys, all of which revealed increased hiring projections within the 5 to 6 percent range. 

The overall hiring projection includes both American and international students who will be hired for U.S. positions. An expected decrease in the hiring of international students for U.S. positions may temper the overall increase.

Among respondents sharing international student hiring plans, the association said almost 46 percent are decreasing their international student hires within the U.S., 30.3 percent are maintaining these hires, and just 24.2 percent are increasing those hires.

According to a separate CareerBuilder survey, 74 percent of employers say they plan to hire recent college graduates this year, up from 67 percent last year and the highest outlook since 2007.

Half (50 percent) plan to offer recent college graduates higher pay than last year (compared with 37 percent last year), and 39 percent of employers hiring recent college graduates this year will pay a starting salary of $50,000 or more (compared with 27 percent last year), according to a news release.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder between Feb. 16 and March 9 this year. It included a representative sample of 2,380 hiring managers and human resource professionals in the private sector across industries and company sizes.

“Competition for soon-to-be college grads is escalating to a degree we haven't seen in the last 10 years,” Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder's chief human resources officer, said in the news release. “In the current environment, where job unemployment continues to decrease and there's continued competition for sought-after skills, employers are especially attracted to college graduates, and the fresh perspective and skills they can bring to the workforce.”

Robinson said many psychology majors continue into graduate school, but she knows many peers were still looking for jobs as of last week. 

She applied to “maybe half a dozen places” and didn't find the job search too difficult.

Ashley McArdle Calderon, director of Career Services at IPFW, is optimistic about students finding work. “The job market looks really good,” she said. “Unemployment is really low. I have quite a few employers posting positions. Our students tend to stay in this region.”

Last year, 89 percent of IPFW's graduates were employed in the region, Calderon said. IPFW normally does a survey to determine where graduates landed; the 2017 survey is underway with about a 40 percent response rate as of early last week.

“A lot of our students pursue careers with nonprofits, obviously health care, manufacturing, sales. Those are all strong,” she said.

“I think I've seen more employers looking for candidates with leadership skills; they want the analytical, the team work.”

Like Calderon, Linda Cooper, employment specialist in the Employment Resource Center at Trine University in Angola, is also upbeat about hiring potential for graduates.

“The class of 2017 has entered an outstanding job market,” Cooper said through an emailed statement. “The job opportunities are plentiful, and even more employers are recruiting Trine graduates. We expect to continue our trend of near 100 percent placement of graduates this year.”