Nearly half of college grads are overqualified for their jobs - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Nearly half of college grads are overqualified for their jobs


Eau Claire (WQOW)- There's a degree of concern about a new study on jobs.  That report shows almost half of the college graduates in this country are working in jobs that don't require a four-year degree.

One issue is saturation.  There are so many college grads in the job market today and there are only so many jobs that match their skillset.

"We're seeing more and more college graduates coming out that are going unemployed or underemployed," points out Training Coordinator Dan Lytle.

The job market doesn't seem to be getting any easier to break into.  A new national study shows 48 percent of college grads are working in a job that doesn't require a four-year degree.

"It's easy to get discouraged looking around and seeing somebody with a PHD working at Starbuck's," says Dr. Chris Ferguson, an Assistant Economics Professor at UW-Stout.

Back in the 1970's, less than one percent of taxi drivers had a four-year degree.  That number has grown to 15 percent in 2013.  More than 1.7 million college graduates are waiting tables or working in retail sales.

"Sometimes students go off in the wrong direction in gaining skills that again are not applicable to the jobs that they are looking for," Lytle explains.

He says there are so many more people with college degrees now than there were 15 to 20 years ago; saturating the market with candidates.  He says students aren't applying with the same work experience employers are used to.

"They want you to come in with a full resume chalked up with skills and experience and sometimes that's unrealistic," Lytle relents.

He says jobs are out there.

"There probably is, especially in this area, a higher rate or the equivalence of people gaining employment with tech degrees versus bachelor degrees," Lytle reveals.

That could have some wondering if a four-year degree is worth it.

"Right now, folks are not getting a return on their investment," says Lytle.  "So in some cases I would have to say depending on the program you went in and how much of a demand there is in that particular industry.  The juice may not be worth the squeeze."

"What you get in a college education isn't purely higher wages but you gain flexibility in the workforce," counters Ferguson.

That's important because most people will change career paths multiple times.  So what can degree-holders do when they can't get a job they want?

"One of the largest barriers to employment is gaps in work history or lack or work history in general," Lytle points out.  "So as a recent graduate, the best advice we can give is get yourself into the labor force by any means necessary."

Another important factor keeping college grads from a job is improvements in health care.  People are living longer so they're retiring later in life and trying to save more money for their golden years.

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