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New college grads are optimistic, but study says reality may be different than their expectations

Published: Monday, May 13 2013 6:01 a.m. MDT

This year's college graduates have high hopes about the 2013 job market, according to a new study by the Accenture consulting firm. But the study dampens optimism with an unpleasant dose of reality.

A CBS MoneyWatch story about the study said that the newest college grads are naive about the state of the labor market.

"Only 15 percent of the respondents expect to earn less than $25,000, but 32 percent of grads from the previous two years are earning those modest salaries," the story said. "Nearly two-thirds expect to find jobs in their field of study, yet in reality only about half of recent college grads succeeded in doing this."

Four out of 10 2011 and 2012 graduates surveyed for the study said they are underemployed or working in jobs that don't require college degrees, the Accenture study said. Only 15 percent of 2013 grads expect to earn less than $25,000 per year, but 32 percent of 2011 and 2012 graduates with jobs say their current annual salary is $25,000 or less and 44 percent of them are living at home.

The study included a list of recommendations to employers that are meant to help them develop new graduates into valuable workers. They include:

• Hire based on potential: Invest in young people with strong generalist skills who can grow into company roles after some training and experience.

• Make training part of the employment package. Besides helping new grads get jobs, this strategy helps companies become "employers of choice."

• Work closely with colleges and universities to create internships, apprenticeships, customized training and industry credential programs. Doing these things ensures a fresh crop of talent suited to company needs.

Amid the discouraging news, new college graduates can take heart in the fact that a college degree is still worth having, The New York Times reported May 3.

A new U.S. Labor Department report showed that the April unemployment rate for college graduates was only 3.9 percent, compared with 7.5 percent for the work force as a whole.

Although they may be underemployed, most college graduates find "work and income of some kind, unlike a much larger share of their less educated peers," according to The New York Times.

Economists say that as the economy improves, college graduates will be better situated to find promotions to jobs that do use their more advanced skills and that pay better wages, the story said.

EMAIL: cbaker@deseretnews.com

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