Job Market Tightens for December Graduates



The job market is bleaker for December college graduates than a year ago, and national, state and local college career experts say opportunities exist but are limited.

"Everything is affected in this downturn. It's across the board," said Flora Riley, executive director of Clemson University's Michelin Career Center, who anticipates that the next year or two could be rough.

"It's not to say there are not any jobs out there. It's just there aren't as many jobs as there were. Employers are going to be more selective," Riley said, advising students to put the same time and effort into job searches as they would a four-credit hour class with a lab.

Sam McClary, labor market analyst with the state Employment Security Commission, said "things are getting worse," and predicted higher unemployment rates when November figures come out Friday.

"It's not impossible to find a job, but it is going to be very hard," McClary said.

Graduates may have to consider "something not exactly in their field" or may have to relocate, McClary said. Graduates should market any unique skill, such as a manufacturing or computer specialty an employer might need, to separate themselves from the pack and increase their employability.

South Carolina's unemployment rate - the highest since 1983 - jumped sharply in October to 8 percent, seven-tenths of a percent above September and 2 percent above October 2007, according to the state commission.

Both Clemson and the University of South Carolina Career Center saw flat on-campus recruiting and hiring numbers this fall, although career fair employer registrations were up.

"While employers have reduced hiring, there continue to be opportunities available for a variety of industries," said Tom Halasz, director of the Career Center. "We saw strong hiring in engineering, computer science and accounting this fall and anticipate a wide variety of employers returning to campus in the spring to hire interns."

Now is the time for all students graduating this year or for students thinking about internships for the summer to get busy, Halasz said.

"In good and challenging times, utilizing a variety of resources and developing a sound plan are the keys to success," Halasz said.

Jan Hirt, interim dean of Health Science/Nursing at Greenville Technical College, said that even in health care, which has been a strong field; the overall job market for graduates isn't good.

Many associate degree graduates are going back to school because jobs are so scarce, Hirt said.

For example, her radiology graduates are getting jobs but not full time jobs with benefits, so many are returning to school to broaden their marketable skills in use of the more specialized equipment such as magnetic resonance imaging.

Specific areas with jobs include physical therapy assistants, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, Hirt said.

While associate degree nursing shortages exist, the need isn't as great in the Upstate as in other areas of the state. Many associate degree nurses are pursuing baccalaureate degrees in order to find better jobs, Hirt said.

The latest National Association of Colleges and Employers survey found that employers plan to hire about the same number of college graduates as last year but are reassessing on a monthly basis and prepared to apply the brakes if needed.

"That's a significant shift from just a year ago when the largest group of employers, nearly 26 percent, said they will reassess their hiring needs on a quarterly basis," said Marilyn Mackles, executive director of the national association.


Copyright 2008- American Society of Registered Nurses (ASRN.ORG)-All Rights Reserved


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