Jobs Outlook Rosy for the Class of 2016

Business, engineering degrees most in demand

By Roy Maurer January 22, 2016

This year’s college grads will be entering a job market eager to receive them, especially those with degrees in business, engineering and computer science, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Employers said they plan to hire 11 percent more college graduates for U.S. jobs this year than in 2015, according to NACE’s Job Outlook 2016 survey. This is a slight increase from the results of the 2015 survey, when companies indicated plans to hire 10 percent more college graduates as compared to the previous year.

Employers have a positive view of the college-graduate-hiring market overall, NACE found. This year, 42 percent of 201 respondents characterized the job market for the Class of 2016 as “very good” or “excellent.” That’s up from two years ago, when only 18 percent characterized it in those ways.

Organizations that are increasing their hiring noted company growth, the importance of building talent pipelines and the need to offset upcoming retirements as top reasons to hire minted grads.

“As the economy continues to improve, we’re seeing positive movement and perception of the college-hiring market,” said Lauren Griffin, senior vice president at Adecco Staffing USA, a recruitment and staffing firm headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla. She added that job growth has been led by high-wage occupations requiring bachelor’s degrees at a minimum, a main finding of recent studies from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

Marie Artim, vice president of talent acquisition at Enterprise Holdings Inc., said that campus recruiting and hiring are currently very strong. The St. Louis, Mo.-based car rental company plans to hire 5 percent more college graduates this year than last, she said. “While our college recruiting has remained consistent each year, we are finding that it is more competitive for us to find talent than it was before the Great Recession of 2008. Companies are not only back on campus but they are being more creative with their recruiting practices and starting sooner, with greater emphasis in the fall.”

At Macy’s department store, internship numbers have increased by 25 percent from last year, according to Taylor Davis, college relations manager for the company. Macy’s hires over 1,000 college grads for full-time internships each year, she said.

Top Majors

Sixty-nine percent of surveyed employers anticipate hiring graduates from the business disciplines, while 67 percent plan to hire engineering graduates, and 58 percent expect to hire computer and information sciences graduates. Other majors in demand are accounting, finance and mechanical engineering.

Graduates with energy-related degrees may find it harder to land that first job. Of the 13 percent of employers planning to cut back on college grads, 42 percent cited lower oil prices as a main factor. NACE anticipates a 58 percent drop in hiring in the oil and gas industry in 2016, further contracting an already ravaged sector.

Griffin noted that in addition to college degrees, Adecco is seeing strong desire from employers for candidates with soft skills including adaptability, emotional intelligence and strong communication skills.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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