Graduate glut: Why college graduates are underemployed and overeducated

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  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Feb. 16, 2013 9:04 a.m.

    atl134-- during the 1800's, the literacy, and learning was much higher then today.

    Today, we require more hours of schooling, but it doesn't make it better education.

    * Testing skills have replaced learning
    * Essays are now done by downloading from a computer
    * memorizing the times table has been replaced by a calculator. Math skills are suffering.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Feb. 15, 2013 7:19 a.m.

    engineering has been hit hard too. with automation toolsets and the simplicity of doing complex tasks with such tools, many of the jobs that were exclusively engineering jobs are now going overseas in record numbers. Someone with an engineering job and is a primary breadwinner should not expect to be able to settle in one place and stay there for his/her lifetime. It just isn't feasible any longer without at least being willing to take positions that don't require all that extra math, while hoping to find something more in line with one's degree.

  • Rural sport fan DUCHESNE, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 11:57 p.m.

    Funny how there is the data in that report, yet the education gurus that steer nat'l and state education and insist on data driven education are screaming that high schools need to get every student ready for college. I still can't figure out who they think will be fixing everyone's plumbing, building their houses, or driving their trucks full of Internet purchases.

    Their are many problems in the system: reduced acceptance scores meaning many go to college without a prayer of graduating, because colleges need paying students, reduced ability in graduates, due to either their low ability, or to colleges lagging behind what the market needs, and of course, the fact that US students don't flock to the majors that require effort or work, they go to the easy things, that look fun, or easy.

    But it is all one is forcing people to do dumb things.

  • yarrlydarb Ogden, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 7:30 p.m.

    "underemployed and overeducated"

    Because higher education nowadays proves the adage: Those who can, do; those who can't, teach (on the university level); and those who can't teach, end up as professors who fail to teach students the most basic and necessary skills -- how to make a living!

  • rafinsure Elk Grove/U.S.A., 00
    Feb. 14, 2013 3:22 p.m.

    The research shows that there are too many people graduating with the wrong type of degree. Folks who are graduating from their undergraduate institutions with degrees in psychology, art history, humanities, etc. are not marketable unless they go directly into a marketable master's degree afterwards, and then enter the workforce. Furthermore, our K-12 school districts need to prepare students better to enter undergraduate programs in healthcare related fields (Ex. nursing,radiology,respiratory therapy, etc.) and engineering (mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and electrical engineering). This country imports way too many nurses from the Philippines and engineers from India and China since we do a poor job at preparing our own citizens for those same jobs. China and India are going to over take the U.S. as economic world powers since we are failing our children miserably in our K-12 system.

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 2:46 p.m.

    Education for the sake of education is a great thing, but not if you have to borrow to do it. Also, while trying to help the masses receive college degrees we have deflated their value, which the market appropriately recognizes. It is possible for someone to graduate with a computer science degree while still requiring help to figure out why char*p; memcpy(p,"hello",5); causes a segmentation fault. Too many technical college graduates struggle with something like (x-1)(x-2)(x-3) > 0 even though you would think with all the math they had to take they should be doing problems of this level in their sleep. Today colleges seem to produce lofty thinkers that have dabbled in higher matters but still severely lack basic skills and common sense. The more capable of them are able to find their way into the job market and get corrected, while others remain unemployed.

  • MyCommon2Sense Los Angeles, CA
    Feb. 14, 2013 2:39 p.m.

    I believe that this phenonemon is a natural progression of the consequences of NAFTA and the belief that free trade is actually free and beneficial. Twenty to thirty years ago there were many more good paying manufacturing jobs, many of which have been moved overseas or over our borders. With the lack of these types of jobs, increasingly the choice is a less than $20/hr job or trying to get a more highly educated job. However, there are only so many jobs and professions which require that type of education, and in fact those professions (lawyers, doctors, dentists, etc) are oversaturated and their income levels are being pulled down on average. Incredible lack of foresight on behalf of the politicians.

  • Go Utes Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 2:30 p.m.

    In reading this article and the comments, a great line comes to mind from the movie "Ghostbusters." At the prospect of leaving their university/academic jobs, one of the future Ghostbusters utters: "Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn't have to produce anything. You've never been out of college. You don't know what it's like out there. I've worked in the private sector: they expect results."

    This is said to get a laugh, but I think there is real wisdom behind the joke. As some have already commented, we should emphasize job training more, and college education less. In some cases, the route to a wanted career will indeed include college. But often that is not necessary. We have come to teach that a college education is the end all and be all of our preparation for entering the workforce (or at the very least the only ticket to better income). It is creating false expectations, causing inflation of the value of the degree (i.e., a degree in 1960 was worth much more than a degree is worth now), and driving education costs to rediculous levels.

  • Logit ,
    Feb. 14, 2013 2:04 p.m.

    Interesting article. There's indeed no easy solution. Are there a lot college graduates working in jobs that don't require college-level skills? Absolutely. But is that wrong or does it mean the degree wasn't worth it? Not so fast.

    There's a perverse dilemma that perpetuates all this. As an employer, when I'm faced with choosing between a new hire with a college degree vs. one without (for the same salary and for a job that doesn't *require* a degree), I'll choose the kid with the degree hands down. Why? Because I can. And because that degree is an element of differentiation. Does that mean the new hire shouldn't have pursued their degree? Not at all! It's that degree that got him/her hired over someone without it--even if the job doesn't explicitly require it.

    So, balancing the number of college degrees with the number of jobs requiring one isn't as simple as saying, "Reduce the number of college degrees because there aren't as many jobs that require it." There's an element of job applicant competition that needs to get resolved.

  • jrgl CEDAR CITY, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 1:38 p.m.

    One of the problems I see is that Universities drastically overstate the future earnings of students in their career planning. The students expect to earn higher salaries than is realistic and take out debt to match what that pseudo post University salary is projected. The rude reality today is that they are unemployed, underemployed & underpaid with a load of debt that lasts decades. It seems that the push is on for Engineering majors, but I'm watching family in Utah with those degrees struggle to maintain long term employment. Sure there are part time, temporary positions, but long range employment is elusive. Not everyone has the I.Q. to major in S.T.E.M. areas that are so pushed these days. This article really makes sense and it's sad to watch those with new degrees unable to find employment that they expected to make.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 1:32 p.m.

    @Say No to BO
    "Place a 6th grade exit exam from the 1800s in front of them and see how they do."

    1800s? The education levels then were way inferior to what we have now.

  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 12:13 p.m.


  • build_assets Logan, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 10:25 a.m.

    One should examine the underlying agenda of sources for news articles. Richard Vedder, the lead source for this article, doesn't believe in taxpayer financing of education (e.g. public schools, State Universities, etc.). He has a history of putting his skills up for payment by the highest bidder:
    "Vedder was a member of the Tobacco Institute's clandestine Economists' network -- a group of academics that the tobacco industry recruited who worked behind the scenes to fight proposed tax increases on cigarettes and the declining acceptability of public and workplace smoking by generating favorable research for publication, presenting favorable papers at academic conferences and symposia, and being ready to challenge the "social costs" economic arguments employed by anti-smoking activist at public and legislative forums. Members of the Institute's Economists Network also assisted by writing letters-to-the-editor and lecturing to journalists on behalf of the industry."

    I question how many of these non-college jobs were *permanent*? I don't think it tells us much when a recent graduate has to work as a parking attendant for a year, while they're lining up a job in their field. You must look at total work history.

  • PA Rock Man Allentown, PA
    Feb. 14, 2013 10:23 a.m.

    I disagree with the notion that Universities should focus on job training. That is what trade schools are for. Universities are structured for holistic education and should be focused on the tradition curriculum of the humanities and sciences. The reason we have so many overqualified individuals is that society started to associate a University education with job training, which it is not.

    Maybe the best thing we can do is to establish non-profit, state owned "Trade Colleges" that teach the skills people need to get jobs that are short on workers: Engineering, Nursing Accounting, etc. Those students wouldn't have to use their time or the state's money taking general educations classes if all they want is training for a job.

    Then the universities can be left to teach the traditional humanities and sciences curriculum to the those who have the time and money to invest in that type of education.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Feb. 14, 2013 10:14 a.m.

    My wife received her BA with honors. While we were raising our children she didn't have a full-time job and the part-time jobs she had didn't require a degree though the skills she acquired while at the university helped her in her work. The greatest blessing of her education is that it helped to make her a great mother. Her appreciation for art, literature, music and many other areas were passed on to our children. Education can help you get a better job but it does so much more to enrich a person's life and the lives those whom they touch.

  • donahoe NSL, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 10:14 a.m.

    Duece, I used to live in Livermore. But I have to say there are not enough jobs for the engineers we are graduation. The BLS paints a rather grim picture for engineering and STEM. Unfortunately, there is much misinformation on this subject. Look up my name on Google and you'll find links to article that I have published over the last decade. We have the Utah Engineers Council banquet on Saturday. Please check out the free Journal. You have the SVEC banquet in San Jose. Both are for National Engineers Week.

  • Brian Wasilla, AK
    Feb. 14, 2013 10:10 a.m.

    I have come to regard many college professors as simply sales people who must recruit a steady flow of students to declare in their specialty in order to keep their own cushy jobs. Pity the poor student who believes that those professors have the least concern for the future of their student victims.

    While I recognize that many professors are people of great integrity there are others in the university setting who are little more then uncaring, self-serving, predators.

  • Owl Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 10:02 a.m.

    Our universities turn out many graduates who have no marketable skills. After the general requirements, the last two years of college should be directed to future employment. That may explain the popularity of for-profit colleges, many of whom focus on making their graduates employable, not just educated.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Feb. 14, 2013 9:55 a.m.

    IRONY OF THE DAY: The DNews complains that Americans are over-educated. Let's change the scripture? "The glory of God is the economy."

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 9:21 a.m.

    Most politicians are just interested in power and money, but Obama, by all parameters of his own words and legislative actions, wants to keep people in poverty, including the latest of many subterfuges of increasing the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage will not raise any of these people out of poverty! Get a clue Americans. Obama is either a marxist, deluded, or both (obviously!). The pied piper of the socialist dream(men's ideas for unity)will only bring more misery and despair, me NOT included. Debt, superficial answers, and increasing Washington's power are hardly beneficial to even sheep!

  • Ironmomo Ogden, Utah
    Feb. 14, 2013 8:34 a.m.

    Overeducated? I don't think so. Maybe "Miseducated" would be more appropriate.

    How many "degreed" individuals do we need in the culinary arts, medical coding and billing, photography, vetinary technology, dental assisting, office management, medical assisting etc etc etc? How many of these so called "degreed" individuals come out of "for profit" colleges and universities with a worthless degree and huge student debts unable to repay their loans?
    If you want a real degree then pay the price, work your tail off and get a degree from a reputable univeristy in something that companies and industry really value and demand. The jobs are there but not in "paralegal assisting" or "fashion design technology".

  • nsteph Providence, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 8:28 a.m.

    Getting a high-paying salary is not the only reason for obtaining an education. People need to learn to think about things for themselves. We need to be educated so we don't listen to our president's state of the union address and take everything he tells us at face value. We need to be able to listen to the candidates who are running for president and decide what is bull and what is the truth. I have learned a lot outside of my area of specialty because I was required to take many different subjects. It has made my life richer to be able to understand, and thus enjoy, many other aspects of life. The biggest problem with education, in my opinion, is that students expect to be handed the information they need, and only what they need, for the exam. They often could care less to know anything, they just want to get a grade. Until people become interested in learning and discovering new information, getting a degree will not mean a lot. Only those who get an education and in the process learn things that are valuable to their future employers will be in demand.

  • squirt Taylorsville, ut
    Feb. 14, 2013 8:10 a.m.

    Why would we argue against a well-educated society??

  • Pete1215 Lafayette, IN
    Feb. 14, 2013 7:56 a.m.

    How about restricting federal aid to those degrees in which the projected income is at some certain level? If you want to major in abstract sculpture, don't expect any federal help.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 7:22 a.m.

    I'm not sure they are overqualified.
    Place a 6th grade exit exam from the 1800s in front of them and see how they do.
    We've been dumbing down for the last 50 years. It was bound to catch up with us.
    From counting change to common sense, these grads are sorely lacking.
    But if you need someone who scores well on Halo, we've got a bumper crop of experts.

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 4:11 a.m.

    There is a misconception by federal and state government that education is a right of passage to the riches and wealth they advertise as essential to become prosperous and rich.

    True, the real need for this country are being neglected but that is because Math and science skilled trades are not ability for anyone who wants a degree. Math and science require and intelligence way above the average level of 90 percent of college students but that is an irrelevant issue that education is willing to live with to hide unemployed and criminal debt profiteering by colleges.

    Young adults don't really understand the reality of the economy that jobs are limited and education administrators are lying to them. The industry's that government and schools are promising don't exist and we have gone beyond the saturation point of need for low level unskilled workers with dreams of prosperity is a myth.

    Education is a multibillion dollar financial industry replacing the housing bust and soon to happen education debt bust. Jobs will never be more than what we have and technology is a low asset for low skill service jobs in tourism, maids, food service, restaurants, and small business.

  • The Deuce Livermore, CA
    Feb. 13, 2013 11:35 p.m.

    Interesting article. In areas such as engineering, there are far more jobs than qualified people. Part of the reason that many companies are trying to get the government to let in more foreign workers to do these jobs. Individuals coming out of college with an electrical engineering degree have a job already before they graduate. It seems that the issue has more to do with the type of degree many have vs what the job market is looking for. We as a nation need to better match need to what people are studying in college. For example, individuals who come out of college with a teaching degree in math seem to find a job with little problem. The same cannot be said for an English major.