In general it is better from a job-seeking perspective to earn a college degree rather than a high school diploma. Unemployment is much more significant for the latter than for the former graduates. However, earning a college degree is no sure way to obtaining a job with good prospects in the post-2008 U.S. economy.
Unfortunately neither U.S. students nor U.S. colleges are well-tuned into the market-place that awaits those who work their way to a baccalaureate degree. One remarkable statistic indicates how far out of tune they are.
Over the next decade, American colleges will mint 40,000 graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. The U.S. economy is slated to create 120,000 computing jobs that require such degrees. No one has to be a math major to do the math. The economy will create three times the number of jobs as we have people qualified to fill them. No wonder employers hunger for all those Asians from India and China who have a better grip on the U.S market-place.
Any youngster who grew up and went to school in the U.S. will have been educated in a system that has eight times as many high-school football teams as high schools that teach advanced placement computer science classes. How many of those students expect to make a lucrative career in sports? Do college students realize how many more graduates there are in languages, literature, history, sociology, and other liberal arts disciplines than there are jobs available relevant to those specialisms? A ratio of 100:1 would not be at all excessive. Yet still so many students come, like moths to the flame, unaware of the heart-break that lies ahead.
The American market-place is increasingly dependent on information technology. Employers are looking for hires who know enough about how these information systems work to function effectively in such an environment. Such hires are not restricted to engineering and programming functions. Suppose that you are in sales and a customer asks you how long a certain digital project is slated to take. Unless you understand the principles and machinations of coding you can only guess an answer. And guessing will not promote your career.
So canny students who want a job in media, technology,or a related field would do well to forego time on the sports field in order to learn a basic computer language. Teach yourself just enough of the grammar and logic of computer languages to be able to see the big picture. Become acquainted with APIs. Dabble in a bit of Python. Immediately you have opened the door to lucrative job opportunities. Once you can claim familiarity with at least two programming languages, start sending out those resumes. And you will receive a great deal of interest from would-be employers, excited to find a nugget of gold among all that worthless ore.
Hat Tip: Kirk McDonald, ‘Sorry, College Grads, I Probably Won’t Hire You’, The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2013