A college degree used to be a near guarantee you’d be able to secure a good-paying job that made use of your education.
The after effects of the recession and mounting student loan debt, in addition to longer-term changes in the labour market, have forced many of today’s graduates to take the first decent offer they receive — even if they’re overqualified for the position.
Some 35% of millennials with a bachelor’s degree say their first full-time job didn’t require a college degree, according to an exclusive survey of 548 millennials in the U.S. The survey also revealed that salary, along with career advancement, proved to be millennials’ biggest job motivators.
Unfortunately, the number of millennials working in jobs they’re overqualified for isn’t that surprising, considering the U.S.’s growing underemployment problem. According to a 2013 study by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, the number of college graduates entering the workforce will be more than double the jobs available that require at least a bachelor’s degree. That means there just aren’t enough high-paying jobs for the number of qualified job seekers out there.
Additionally, with student debt growing faster than any other type, many graduates choose paying the bills over holding out for a more prestigious job offer.
“These students are graduating with more student debt on average than any previous generation,” Brooks Holtom, associate professor of management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, told Business Insider. “While there is abundant talk of work-life balance concerns for this generation, the hard realities of debt and low expectations for salary growth emphasise the importance of starting with the best pay possible at the first job.”
Millennials find jobs where they can, even if it means starting their career in a job below their education level. And while plans to relieve student debt are a step in the right direction, there aren’t any long-term solutions for underemployment currently on the horizon, says Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
He expects the job market will continue to narrow, placing increasing pressure on job-seeking young people.
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