Challenges for Young Job Seekers

Finding a good job can be tough. Heck, finding any job is tough for many Americans. Though the unemployment rate has been falling (slowly but surely) since its high at 10% in 2009, the job market remains fairly unforgiving for job seekers. According to the most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in the United States is currently holding at 6.3%, down from 6.7% in March. While unemployment continues to trend downward, these figures don’t tell the whole story for job seekers, especially those in marginalized groups. For those people who have only recently graduated from college, the job market can be just as cold and unforgiving as it was at the height of the recession. For this demographic, remaining unemployed has more to do with the circumstances of the marketplace than a lack of effort on their parts. 

Let’s start with the professionals of tomorrow, those recent college grads who are trying their luck in the working world for the first time. Now, I’m sure that all of you were told, from a young age, that education was the key to a fulfilling, successful career in the future. Tell me if this sounds familiar:

“Mom, why do I have to do all this math homework?”

“Because you need to do well in Grade school so you can do well in Middle School.”

“Why do I need to do good in Middle School?”

“You need to do well because, if you do well in Middle School, you’ll do better in High School”

“But, why do I need to do well in High School? “

“Because you need to do well in High School to go to College.”

“But why do I need-“

“So you can get a job! J-O-B, job! You can’t get a good job without going to College, everyone knows that.”

Fast forward 15 years and this poor kid has done exactly what he’s been told. He did well in school, very well actually, and graduated with an in-demand major, let’s say Computer Science. The only problem is that, like for many other recent grads, the whole job thing isn’t lining up so well. According to a survey from the Guardian, “Around a quarter (23%) of those who took part singled out a lack of jobs and opportunities as the biggest problem they currently face.”

Today’s employers want to make hires that can hit the ground running. When a company invests in a new employee, they want to make sure that this investment pays off, making the idea of investing even more into training new employees, fairly unattractive. There’s also those things that just don’t make too much sense. One respondent to this survey was quoted as saying, “I have commercial experience plus a postgraduate [degree] so frequently get told I’m underqualified and overqualified.” For these graduates, the working world is frustratingly out of reach. They’re told that they aren’t prepared for the professional environment or else are offered positions that pay nothing or next to nothing. According to the same survey “91% either strongly agree or agree employers should offer more trainee roles.” Clearly, something has to give before too long.

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