By Michelle Seiler-Tucker, Special for USDR
The outlook for recent college graduates continues to be disheartening for the majority of young Americans. According to the Center for College Affordability & Productivity, 48% of employed U.S. college graduates are in jobs that don’t require a four-year degree and 37% are employed in positions that require only a high school diploma. Recent graduates are forced into accepting jobs that are below their skill sets due to the increasingly fierce job market of today. The official unemployment rate for grads under age 25 is 7%, not reflecting all those who are under-utilized in one way or another. Nearly 8% of grads are working part-time, but would like full-time positions.
One would assume that it would be easy to get a position of employment if you are more than qualified, even overqualified, for an opportunity. While many hold the belief that employers should be delighted to have overqualified candidates fill their positions, the opposite is actually the case: many employers won’t even consider an applicant with excessive education or experience. This disillusioning reality stems from an administrator’s apprehension that the cost of employment will be too expensive. Companies also hold the assumption that the overqualified applicant will leave at the first chance to land a better position elsewhere. There is also a common concern that the overqualified candidate would soon become disgruntled and disconnected in the job due to a lack of interest.
Hospitality and retail are the most common occupations of the overqualified youth. Of the approximate 3 million recent college graduates, 152,000 are working in retail, almost 100,000 work as waitrons, bartenders or in other food service positions. An additional 80,000 serve as clerks or customer service representatives, and 60,000 working in manual labor occupations. Many of these workers in low-paying jobs are going to have a difficult time repaying their student loans.
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when a college diploma was like possessing a “Golden Ticket” in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Simply holding that piece of sheepskin was enough to guarantee a decent job after graduation. Unfortunately this is no longer the reality for American students and a huge mismatch exists between the skills of the workforce and the jobs that are available. My solution to all of the overqualified recently graduated college students is quite simple and could be summed up in a single word, entrepreneurship. And as a young adult in the 21st century, most grads already have what it takes to make it in business: passion, drive, energy, and creativity. The road to professional success and financial freedom is vastly different than the one traveled by the average employee. One must have determination and a resilient spirit to prosper in such a taxing profession. But once conquered, the personal and financial rewards reaped are of no comparison to any “job” one would acquire. In today’s society it isn’t enough to just graduate from an esteemed collegiate school, boldness wins the race to victory. It is now time to abandon the old ideal of the American route to success and usher in the new age of entrepreneurship.