Student job market still steady in shaky economy

For those Tech students coming close to their graduation day, Tech’s Career Services provides a wide variety of options to facilitate students at finding the right job for them and connecting them with prospective employers. Additionally despite the gloomy outlook on the national economy and its effects on the job market, the job outlook for recent Tech graduates is still healthy for the majority of majors at Tech, especially engineering and computer-related fields.

However, with the economy constantly slumping in the past few years, many students are concerned about their prospects for getting a job after graduation. According to Ralph Mobley, director of Career Services, the job market for technical skills is still good.

“There’s just as much recruiting [this year] as a year ago,” Mobley said. He advised that as the times change, the skill set favors certain fields more. At this point in time, technical skills are a focus of employers, which Mobley said melds well with Tech’s engineering focus. The job market for positions in fields like investment banking or the automotive industry are weak sectors according to Mobley, who also described the recruitment for consulting positions as “holding up.“

The last major decline in the job market was back in 2001. “The bottom fell out in the job market, and continued to go down in 2003. It’s been on a steady climb until 2007,” Mobley said.

“We seem to still be in a strong position. This is particularly true for many of the industries that traditionally recruit at Tech,” Mobley said. Many companies, such as ExxonMobil, Shell and Schlumberger, which have been typical fare at Tech for recent graduates, are still recruiting. Additionally, according to Mobley, many consulting companies and high-tech companies such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Microsoft are still recruiting at around the same level as a year ago.

The job market has declined slightly in 2008, but according to Mobley, it doesn’t seem that dramatic. “The [job] placement rate for new graduates is around 60 percent, and about one quarter of graduates said they are going on to graduate school.”

According to the Job Outlook 2009 Special Report produced by National Association of Colleges and Employers, the projected hiring rate for the class of 2009 shows a very stagnant level. However, there does not seem to be any indication of a decrease in hiring compared to the 2008 rates. “I will note that there is a big difference between recruiting and hiring. We won’t have a clear hiring picture for a while yet, perhaps not until January,” Mobley said.

As for any change in the amount of students opting for graduate school rather than testing the job market, there has not been any evidence available yet to show a possible increase in graduate school applications due to the current economic climate. “[In] my experience is that grad school applications increase during tight job markets, but I don’t want to speak for our admissions department,” Mobley said. The admissions department was unavailable for comment at time of printing.