How the next generation feels about joining the workforce

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April 26, 2019
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How the next generation feels about joining the workforce

The workforce is constantly changing. Needed skills have shifted with some skills now prioritized over others; fields and industries have undergone major changes. As new generations enter the workforce, students' feelings of preparedness for this next stage in their lives also depends on the jobs available and the skills demanded. The upcoming generation entering the workforce is no different, and they, too, vary in expectations and readiness for the start of their careers.

Using data from McGraw Hill Education, Stacker researchers analyzed the 30 key points and statistics about how the next generation feels about joining the workforce. The Spring 2018 Future Workforce Survey, conducted by McGraw Hill Education in conjunction with MMR Research Associates, reports students feelings of preparedness in terms of careers, financial obligations and skills, as well as feelings about choice in major and choice in career path. Stats and numbers are backed up with references to other news sites and articles relating to the next generation and the workforce.

Stacker compiled a list of the unique ways the next generation feels about joining the workforce. Read on to learn about how this coming generation differs from previous generations.

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40% of students indicated that college debt will significantly impact career choices

40% of students strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement: “Debt I will have significantly affects the types of jobs I am pursuing.” Although overall students feel positive about choice of major and future career opportunities, the burden of college debt impacts some of these choices, according to the report “Buried in Debt.”

More men than women feel prepared for the financial obligation of college

Forty-nine percent of men reported feeling prepared for the financial obligation of college whereas 38% of women reported feeling the same way. Overall, men felt more prepared than women in all aspects of college life, including course load, academic rigor, and social life.

Students wants more internships and professional experience to feel better prepared

Half of students reported that more internships and professional experience would have been helpful for them to feel more prepared for the workforce and their future careers. This was seen as helpful by a higher percentage of students than, for example, having more time to focus on career preparation (38%) or networking with alumni (26%).

88% of students believe their major will help them get a job

Almost 90% of students reported strongly agreeing or somewhat agreeing with the statement “my major will help me get a job,” according to a NerdWallet study. Roughly the same percentage of students reported selecting majors with perceived employment opportunities in that field. Of these 88%, 57% believed there were many opportunities in many different career fields for their major, and 48% agreed that skills in their major are in high demand.

Gap in critical skills needed for the workforce

Students reported feeling unprepared in skills such as complex problem solving, resume writing, and workplace technology among other critical skills needed in the workplace. When asked about the skills students learned in college, fewer than half of the students reported feeling prepared in this area.

Collaboration skills, team player mentality, and communications skills are high

A majority of students reported college has prepared them in interpersonal skills, such as collaboration, working as a team, and communicating with others. Similarly, many students (63%) reported that college helped them learn how to manage their time well. In the non-technical skills, college has prepared students fairly well in these aspects.

Courses found to be most helpful in career preparation

A full 56% of students reported that college courses were the most helpful in preparing them for their careers. Since 88% of students strongly believe that their major choice will help them get a job, there is a strong belief that their courses will help prepare them for the work they do after graduation.

Men were more likely than women to report feeling prepared for their career

When asked how prepared students felt for their career, 50% of men reported feeling “extremely prepared” or “very prepared” whereas only 36% of women reported the same. This can be a result of different perceptions or experiences in school and in other professional settings.

Non-traditional students feel more prepared than traditional students

49% of non-traditional students reported feeling prepared for their careers, compared to only 34% of traditional students reporting the same. A large percentage of non-traditional students reported entering the workforce for a period of time before returning to school, which may contribute to their feelings of preparedness and experience.

More students in 2018 feel career ready compared to students in 2017

41% of students reported feeling either “extremely” or “very prepared” for their careers, whereas in 2017, only 29% of students reported the same. Although this number has improved from last year, it is still somewhat low and reflects a trend of students feeling confused and unprepared.

Indeed and LinkedIn are the top used websites for students job search

62% of students reported using Indeed for job search and 57% reported using LinkedIn. These websites have proved to be the most useful and successful for the job hunt.

Gap between students and employers perception of professionalism

77% of students feel confident in their professionalism, work ethic, and teamwork/collaboration skills; however, 43% of employers reported feeling confident in recent grads ability to operate in their professional setting, as reported in the 2018 Job Outlook and NACE.

Campus career resources go unused

A little over half of the students surveyed reported using their campus career resources, such as job fairs, career advisors, resume support, among others. Students who did use career centers and resources reported them extremely helpful in their career search (85%).

Instructors are helping students feel more prepared for career

35% of students reported finding instructors the most helpful in career preparation, second behind college courses. Instructors are usually expert in their fields and can offer a form of mentorship and guidance for students.

Vocational students are more likely to feel prepared for the workforce

40% of vocational students reported feeling extremely prepared, 20% reported very prepared, and another 40% reported moderately prepared. These students undergo specific training and education to become experts in their chosen field of study.

Non-traditional students reported feeling more prepared in a variety of career skills

When surveyed regarding career skills, such as professionalism, teamwork/collaboration, critical thinking and many other, more non-traditional students consistently reported feeling extremely prepared compared to traditional students.

Only 40% of students feel well-prepared

Roughly 41% of students reported feeling extremely/very prepared for their future careers. Although this number seems low, it shows an increase from 2017 when only 29% of students reported the same.

Students who use career resources report feeling more prepared

Over 70% of students who use their college resources, such as alumni network, networking events, mentoring opportunities and other events, reported feeling “very” or “extremely prepared” for their careers.

Post graduation job security

45% of students reported that they expect to have a job either before they graduate or within a month of graduation. Health care and business, 26% and 21% respectively, were among the top career fields for students getting their first job.

Men and women differ in concerns after college

Thinking about after college, women reported feeling more concern than men about making enough money to live comfortably, finding a job that offers good benefits, paying back student loans, and economic instability. Women and men often have different perceptions of their work environment, and sometimes different expectations, which may contribute to these differences in concerns.

Concern for work-life balance

Men (48%) and women (49%) both reported feeling concerned about the work-life balance after after college when surveyed about top concerns post graduation. Regardless of other worries, both men and women are concerned about living their lives, while also working.

Fewer students felt unprepared for careers in 2018 vs. 2017

Only 17% of students reported feeling slightly or not at all prepared in 2018 compared to 31% of students in 2017. While this is an increase in a positive direction, there are still many students who feel underprepared to start their careers.

Students want more time for career preparation

38% of students reported wanting more time for career preparation, while many others reported feeling unprepared in terms of interviewing, job searching, and resume writing. However, many students also reported not using the college career resources, which may offer some of these tools.

Fewer women feel prepared for the workforce than men

38% of women reported feeling “extremely” or “very prepared” for the workforce compared to 50% of men who reported feeling the same.

Concern for finding a job that is both fulfillful and enjoyable

Both men and women expressed concern about finding a job that is both fulfillful and enjoyable after college, with 55% of men reporting this concern and 56% of women reporting the same.

Social sciences and arts and humanities among least prepared

Social sciences and arts and humanities students reported higher levels of slightly to not at all prepared for the workforce, at 25% and 23%, respectively. These disciplines may focus more on soft skills, rather than the critical thinking skills employers tend to look for.

Non-traditional students reported more prepared for soft skills in college

Non-traditional students were more likely to report feeling extremely prepared or prepared for time management, faculty interactions, and other “soft skills” associated with college.

Traditional students reported more prepared for academic skills in college

Traditional students were more likely to report feeling extremely prepared or prepared for academic rigor, course load, and other academic aspects associated with college.

Women use career advisors more often than men

18% of women reported utilizing career advisors “most often” compared to only 12% of men who reported the same.

Students expect to stay in their first job for five years or less

About 63% of students expect to stay in their first job out of college for five years or less. This is the average length of time people tend to stay in their jobs, thus students are pretty accurate with their expectations.

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