How Technology Alleviates Bleak Job Prospects

Today’s article about post-college job prospects sheds new light on ways graduates can make the best of what still seems to be a fairly bleak economy. Guest blogger, writer Valerie Harris, who covers how education can be obtained on the web for a variety of online magazines, joins Atomic Learning to look at ways in which technology can be leveraged to improve job prospects.

Even With a Masters Degree, Jobs Are Hard to Come By
While the job market is finally showing signs of incremental improvement, many college graduates are taking positions outside of their field or even jobs that don't require a college education at all, suggesting that job growth has been less secure than many assume.A report from the Council of Graduate Schools showsthat from 2008 to 2009, enrollment of new students at US graduate schools grew 5.5%, compared to only 4.5% growth the previous year. From 2000 to 2010, enrollment increased 37%, from 15.3 million to 21.0 million. Yet, as job growth fails to keep pace with that of graduate programs and some young workers fall into despair, a growing number of graduates are turning to online technology to secure training and work opportunities.

A recent survey from Millennial Branding and Payscale has found that recent graduates are more likely to be employed in service industry jobs or temporary contract work than career-oriented positions, a trend that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Since 2009, the number of people holding temporary jobs has increased by 40%. The Economic Policy Institute says that almost 30% of American workers are expected to hold low-wage jobs by 2020. In the UK, the number of graduate students forced to take jobs as menial and physical laborers has nearly doubled in the past five years. What's more, many fail to find even this sort of work, with 9% assumed to be unemployed six months after completing their degrees in 2010 and 2011.

Many worry that the grim job market could be causing long-term damage to young college graduates. Some social scientists have asserted that young adults today are a lot like Americans who came of age in the early 1930s. “The economic situation (for recent graduates) is completely parallel and analogous to the GI generation,” says Morley Winograd, author of many books on the currently graduating generation. “Raised in relative affluence, and then just as they are to start in that affluent world, it all comes crashing down. ”

“The reality is that even though they are striving for stability, they won't find it,” says Carl Van Horn, director of Rutgers' Heidrich Center for Workforce Development. “For the foreseeable future the labor market will remain volatile, and that will be their experience. My gut feeling is that this will mark this group of people for a long period of time in the way they approach things -- their concerns about job security, their anxiety -- in the same way that the Depression marked people through that period. ”


Atomic Learning's Searching The Web – Advanced resource is a tool schools can use to help students be college and career-ready.


How Technology Alleviates Bleak Job Prospects
In this uncertain market, one advantage this generation has over those that have come before is the availability of powerful online technology to acquire skills through online training and education programs, many of which are now completely free. Many students are even finding long-term job satisfaction through online freelance work. Elance, the leading global platform for online employment announced in September that over 57% of freelancers report an increase in 2012 income, and a 47% average increase in earnings. Furthermore, 67% expect their income to increase in 2013. “In just a few short years, freelancing has gone from a last resort option to a lucrative and fulfilling career,” says Elance CEO Fabio Rosati. “As a 'Business of One', your potential is no longer constrained by where you live or the corporate hierarchy.” Those born after 1981 are adapting to online work faster than any other age segment, with 46% of that group freelancing full time while 26% hold a full time job and freelance on the side.

Young workers have suffered disproportionately throughout the recession and slow recovery, leading many to question the value of their degrees. Yet, while pessimism over short-term job prospects has been rampant, the growing use of online resources for freelance work, additional training and education throughout the globe has given new hope to many young, educated workers. Starting a career today arguably requires more personal initiative than has been the case for decades, though by utilizing one's education and technology effectively, young workers can still find careers for themselves that offer both security and personal fulfillment.

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