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School Daze: Shopping at the New Job Market

September 13, 2007
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It's back-to-school season, and college students everywhere are packing their bags. But whether you are choosing a major or about to graduate, it's important to know what to expect once you are out.

College graduates remain in great demand. In fact, a recent job-outlook study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers finds that employers plan to hire 17.4 percent more 2007 college graduates than they did in 2006.

But today's job market is not your parents' job market. Huge demographic and employment trends are changing the way that America works.

Here are some tips to help you stay on top of the career market:

· Expect to change jobs. In today's career world, job stability does not always equal job security. The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics reports that over the past 25 years, baby-boomers have held an average of 10.5 jobs, and the average American now holds nine jobs between the ages of 18 and 34.

"Instead of working their way up the company ladder, today's employees seem to be changing jobs more than ever before, and they are taking their skills and experiences with them to their next job," states John Andrews, campus president at Everest College-City of Industry in California. "We find that our students come to us with a range of skills they've developed in the real world, and those experiences help them out when they are looking for new positions."

· Know what the hot job sectors are. "Our nation is experiencing huge demographic changes, which are creating some major shifts in the types of jobs available today," explains Dr. Janette Ducut, director of education at Everest College-City of Industry. "Students should prepare themselves for a changing job market."

And with a wave of boomers scheduled to retire -- coupled with a large youth population -- a growing need for work in a whole host of service-related fields exists, from teaching to tourism, job training to elder care.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, half of salary and employment growth will come from just two industry categories: education and health services, and professional and business services.

"We know that the fastest-growing employment sectors in the next decade will be the service sector, technology and health care," notes Andrews. "In fact, we specifically target our programs to help our graduates prepare for careers in those sectors."

· Be flexible. Today's job market requires that employees keep their skills up-to-date, and as a result, more and more adults are going back to school.

The NACE job-outlook report also finds that employers often prefer to hire students with professional education because they know they often have more work experience than four-year graduates, which has helped them develop a strong work ethic.

"There used to be more of a stigma attached to changing jobs. And completely changing career fields was rare," notes Andrews.

"Now, we find that it is perfectly acceptable; employers understand that a one- or two-year program can give new employees the credentials they need," he continues. "For example, our students can prepare for an entry-level health-care career in less than a year.

"It's really quite liberating for many of our students."

This column was prepared in cooperation with ARA Content.

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