Wednesday, June 15, 2011

U.S. Labour Market Observations...Plenary Session

(from the Plenary Session, delivered by the Assistant Secretary of the Federal Dept. of Labor, Jane Oates, and Dr. Paul Harrington, Prof., Center for Labor Market and Policy, Drexel)

Note, that there are 345 delegates in attendance from 22 countries.

During the recession, the decrease in the employment to population ratio of 16 to 19 year olds went from 37 to 28%. For those with Bachelor degrees, it went from 81% to 75%.

Dr. Harrington went on to speak about "mal-employment", where graduates are not in employment situations relevant to their area of study. For Bachelor-degreed students from engineering, math, or computer science it was 18%. In Humanities, Commerce, Arts, and Science it was greater than 30%.

The mean annual earnings for the mal-employed drops dramatically from about $68k/a (engineering) to $37k/a. The same is true for Masters-level graduates.

There are in other words, earnings premiums for finding relevant employment. It can be as much as 86% for engineering versus 17% for non-relevant roles. In business disciplines, it can be as much as 65% versus 15%.

Another observation, relevant to Co-op and building relations with employers, the Universities are welcome, stable sources of talent that are trusted. Employers do not put as much trust in individual letters of reference. They want to build long-term relationships in order to have predictable access to the labour market. This can mean that they need to have relationships that afford the potential to speak about student candidates with university personnel, where the longer-term relationship is paramount. They wish to know that they can learn about candidates from the university and know that the guidance they will get is secondary to sustaining the relationship. That's a different way of saying that they want us to know our students and "guide" employers accordingly. This is, in my opinion, a difficult and challenging situation for all of us on many fronts.

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