by Daniel Bennett
The recent turmoil in the financial markets is having a profound effect on many members of the generation nearing, or so they thought, retirement. I keep reading and hearing stories about workers who had planned to retire in the next few years who may be forced to stay in the labor force longer than expected because of the decrease in the value of their retirement funds. Many other retirees are considering re-joining the workforce, as they realize that their financial situations aren't quite what they expected. I guess this means that parents can't count on discounted grandparent childcare much longer!
This is an unfortunate set of circumstances for those who have worked their entire adulthood away and now have to continue doing so. You may wonder what this has to do with higher education, and rest assured, I'm getting to that. With a growing number of college graduates every year, the job prospects may be dimmer. Many companies have partially based their hiring of new (and less expensive) workers on the expected retirement of many of the 'seasoned' employees. With the economy in its current shape, it seems that many employees will postpone their retirement, leaving less resources for the training of new hires, many of them college graduates, and with many already retired workers making pleas for their old jobs, this will toughen the competition for positions.
Yes, this may mean that fresh grad Johnny Too Cool may be competing with Grandpa Wilbur for the same job at the XYZ Company. My advice to future and current college students is to do one of the following:
1) Quickly switch your major if you are currently a finance major. In case you haven't noticed, you have zero experience and the job pool has increased substantially with displaced financial employees, desperate for a job.
2) Seriously consider engaging in one of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) areas. Economic and job growth in the future is going to be in these fields in the US and the rest of the world.
3) Re-evaluate your key competencies and consider whether learning a trade would be a better route to that high paying salary you are seeking. Top plumbers, mechanics, carpenters, etc. bring home six figure incomes.
4) Start preparing for grad school or take a year to study abroad and wait the current economic crisis out. I say this haphazardly, as you should not attend grad school to put off the real world.