Why are so many recent US college graduates unemployed or underemployed? The changes in the labor market are important for younger generations to pay attention to. When college students are deciding what majors to choose and what career paths to follow, it is critical for them to understand how technology and outsourcing are affecting the job market and the skills required for today’s jobs. As we saw in the class article “A World of Work,” low-skilled jobs are not the only jobs being outsourced anymore. Many white-collar jobs, such as software engineering, information technology, medical services, and administrative work are being outsourced to India, China, and other countries abroad because they have many workers who offer the right set of skills, strong educational backgrounds, and cheap labor. The Los Angeles Times said that American students in the legal service fields are having an incredibly difficult time finding work after graduation because “some legal services are being outsourced to such places as India, and Internet-based companies are offering consumers relatively inexpensive help navigating litigation.” US college graduates need to rethink what career paths they should follow and what skills they need to effectively compete in the global market.
Along with the recession, outsourcing and technological innovations have left grim prospects for American college graduates. College graduates face diminishing job options and many are coming out of college and entering clerical low-skill positions. They are taking jobs that in the past have only required a high school diploma, and the gap between the earnings of college graduates and their less-educated peers has declined. The Center for College Affordability and Productivity found that about 48 percent of employed US college graduates are in jobs that require less than a four-year college education and 37 percent are in occupations requiring no more than a high-school diploma. Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at CIBC World Markets, said that, “Not everyone is benefiting from a postsecondary education…The growing use of technology and machines to replace human workers, outsourcing, and the baby boom’s big presence in the job market have all had an effect on today’s twenty–through-forty-somethings.”
In order to compete with countries like China and India who produce thousands of specialized workers, American workers should think about how to compete in the global market. The younger generations should be more educated in science and technology to be able to fill high-tech jobs that are offered by US companies. Vineet Nayar, the highly respected CEO of HCL Technologies, one of India’s IT services vendors, controversially stated that, “Most American grads are unemployable.” There are a few reasons for this. Labor is cheaper in other countries and many US companies do not want to pay more to train American graduates when foreign workers have similar skills and education. However, it is not only outsourcing that is the problem. Many US college graduates lack the right technical skills that are needed for the jobs. Some experts are saying there is a mismatch between the skills and education young people are acquiring in their educations and what’s needed in the workforce. Benjamin Tal uses the phrase “people without jobs and jobs without people” to describe this situation. If current college students are wary about finding a job after graduation, it might be time to think about the skills that are needed for current and future jobs. American workers have to anticipate and be prepared to work jobs that have not even been invented yet. While liberal education is very important, there needs to be a greater emphasis on technology, science, math, engineering, and other skills that prepare workers for a changing labor market, so domestic workers don’t lose out to foreign workers for new jobs. When thinking about the future, we have to assess what skills and innovations American workers need to compete in the global market in order to maintain our competitiveness as a nation.
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