The Accenture Strategy 2015 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study finds that new college graduates are well prepared as they enter the workforce. They’re responding to the growing need for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) degrees. They’re thinking about potential jobs before choosing a major field of study. They’re pursuing internships and ongoing training opportunities. And colleges are doing their part, getting them ready to go and helping them look for work.
What these graduates are likely to find in the job market, however, often falls well short of those ideals. High percentages of recent graduates report they are underemployed; salaries are low; graduates are not being offered learning experiences that advance their careers.
In addition, low percentages of graduates want to work for large companies, or in traditional sectors like energy, insurance and communications.
In other words, new college graduates have been doing everything they can to strengthen their link in the overall talent supply chain. Colleges are showing improvements as well.
But employers’ lack of commitment and investment in entry-level jobs makes them the weakest link in the chain.
This is an opportunity for leading companies to differentiate on talent—on attracting, developing and retaining the best and the brightest.
Accenture Strategy 2015 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study
Learn more about the expectations and experiences of recent US college grads.
This year’s grads are prepared, pragmatic, hopeful and confident. For example:
Sixty-three percent of 2015 grads were encouraged to pursue a STEM degree, compared to 52 percent of grads from 2013 and 2014. STEM was the most popular major this year.
Eighty-two percent of new grads looked at the job market before choosing a major—up from 75 percent of 2014 grads.
Seventy-four percent expect to be with their first job for at least three years, up from just 43 percent of 2013/2014 grads.
Seventy-two percent participated in an internship during college, up from 65 percent of prior-year graduates.
These expectations are not being met by employers, however:
Forty-nine percent of 2013 and 2014 graduates consider themselves underemployed.
Only about half of recent grads report their employer provided formal training opportunities.
Only 52 percent of 2013/2014 respondents are employed full time, down from 68 percent in 2011/2012.
And only 15 percent want to work for large companies.
Are you the weakest link?
Do recent U.S. college grads see big career opportunities with companies? Find out what employers can do to attract the best and brightest.
Act like a small company. Even a large company can act like a small one with the right organizational structure and attention to building a positive work environment. Offer entry-level employees challenging work and create a culture of growth and advancement.
Get digital. Digital is no longer an option; it’s the reality. Because young people use digital channels such as social networking while prospecting, employers must invest in those channels.
Engage earlier. It’s important to engage with recruits earlier in the supply chain. If you don’t have an internship program, it’s time to start one.
Differentiate on talent development. The gap between expectations for training and the reality of what recent grads have experienced presents employers with a significant opportunity to differentiate during the recruiting and retention parts of the talent supply chain. It’s also a way to strengthen the organization through ongoing capability development.