The conventional view of many is that education provides a means by which anybody may obtain a high-paying job. This time-honored wisdom is being tested. Around 53% of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed. The unemployment rate for recent college graduates exceeds that of the general population, and about 41% of recent college graduates are working in jobs that do not require a college degree.
As jobs disappeared in 2020, many students applied for MBA programs hoping to ride out a bad economy. While the economy has contributed to a tight job market, it is not the only reason jobs are hard to find. The automation of many jobs will continue. Artificial Intelligence (AI) already outperforms humans at entry-level jobs typically performed by graduates and is increasingly taking high quality jobs. College graduates will continue to compete for a shrinking number of jobs.
Does this mean college is not valuable? Not necessarily. Curriculum matters. Every student needs a deeper foundational understanding of data, digital tools, technology, and basic programming language skills for the new jobs that will be created. Internships are not as crucial as creating portfolios that showcase data, digital, and technology skills applied in a dynamically changing environment. Freshman students’ technology skills will not be the technology skills they will need their senior year to enter the job market.
Until colleges design more flexible learning paths, many students will have to build a parallel learning track outside of college to keep up with the skills needed to be employed. Many of these skills will have to be self-taught and do not have formal certificates or learning programs. According to Gartner, “43% of candidates today are self-taught in one or more of their role’s requirements.” The skills needed are changing too quickly to formalize everything.