Each year, College Affordability LLC reviews the findings of the Accenture survey which compares the recent college graduate expectations to the prior two year college graduates actual employment results.
A key goal of College Affordability is to provide information to families and students so that they can better understand the financial outcome of a college education. We do this via our EFC PLUS college financial software tools, our timely blog articles and webinars. We believe the lack of financial literacy and transparency is a missing part of the education process that needs to be corrected.
The 2017 Accenture survey was conducted in February, 2017. The demographics of the survey included current college seniors and the prior two years of college graduates. The survey size is approximately 2,000 people between the ages of 18 and 24 and was split 1,000 from each group. This survey brings a sense of reality to many students and is a good point of reference if you are a parent or advisor trying to help students grasp the financial consequence of their college decisions.
This is the fifth year that we have reviewed the findings and the first year that the Accenture Survey consisted of the Generation Z graduates. Generation Z are individuals born between 1993 and 1999. This generation had an impact on the results since we saw a few trends reversed.
Place of Employment
In prior years, new graduates surveyed suggested that the job interest tended to be in the entrepreneurial business area. This is in sharp contrast to new graduates who want to work for large companies. According to Accenture, this is a 37% increase over last year’s survey results. The survey indicated that new graduates want the traditional workplace where new employees can find specific training programs and defined career paths. New graduates understand there is a lot to learn and 84% expect some sort of formal training and mentoring within their company.
Gaining experience in your chosen field sets the college student ahead of the curve with their peers and helps to fill their resume with relative job experiences. Interestingly, the Accenture survey reported that 78% of graduates had completed some sort of internship, apprenticeship or co-op. For current college students, this percentage is important. To make themselves marketable for their future career opportunities it will be important for current college students to understand early how to apply and get an internship.
As stated above, employers are expecting more. By having some real life experience, new hires reduce the employer’s risk. It can also be an important part of the interview process for both the student and employer, as it may enhance the conversation on your work experience.
We always recommended the career center be part of your college visit and decision process. The college career centers can help a student discover a new possible career, assist in finding the best internships and give the student a sense of recent graduate placement after graduation.
Other Marketable Skills
To keep up with the competition, current college graduates must also make sure they are keeping up with their peers in the technical area. The survey reported that three out of every four graduates had taken a digital or computer science related courses before their first job.
What does this mean to current students? Don’t waste your electives! Use them wisely and possibly take a course that will give you the extra edge when you interview for either an internship or job after graduation. In some situations, pursuing a second major or minor in a given area could give the student an advantage in getting that dream job.
Retention at Work
When comparing the survey of last year to this year, one item stood out. The graduates of 2015/2016 felt underemployed while the graduate of 2017 have a different expectation. According to the survey, 62% of the 2017 graduates are planning to stay at their first jobs for 3 years or longer if they are challenged. Only 54% of the 2015/2016 graduates felt this way. The new graduate retention will be based on the quality of the training and the mentorship received.
The new graduate of 2017 also understands that their first jobs are a starting point and is one reason that the training is so important. The survey indicated that 88% of them picked their major based on job availability and even considered areas where there was long-term job growth.
This is also a change in trend since many millennials were told to follow their dreams. For some, the dream chasing came with a harsh sense of reality when loan repayment started.
Conclusion of 2017 Accenture Survey Review
The results of the survey indicated that the majority of college students are thinking about the outcome of their college education and career choice when picking their major. This may be due to the increased cost of college and the growing student debt crisis. Questions about paying for college and student debt were not part of the survey so I am not sure if this is actually making student’s more outcome driven in their major choices. It does indicate that current college student will have to be prepared and bring the same practical skills to their first job just as their predecessors, the class of 2017.
We highly recommend that you use this article and the Accenture survey as a conversation point with your college bound or current college student. A college education is an investment and has a financial consequence that is often minimized.