Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Want a janitor's job? Get a degree.

Janitorial work is increasingly becoming the domain of the college degreed - and if you apply, you'd better have a degree in a technical field.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that as many as one out of three college graduates today are in jobs that previously or historically have been filled by people with lesser educations or none. 
The U.S. now has 115,000 janitors with college degrees, along with 83,000 bartenders, 80,000 heavy-duty truck drivers, and 323,000 waiters and waitresses. Employers, because they realize that many college graduates aren’t really educated, now routinely quiz job seekers on what they majored in and what courses they took, a practice virtually unknown a generation ago. 
Good luck if you majored in gender studies, communications, art history, pop culture, or (really) the history of dancing in Montana in the 1850s.
The problem is that high school grads - as many as three-fourths! -are increasingly unprepared for even the ever-lowering standards of undergraduate work. Most college graduates are similarly unprepared for "the real world" and so half of college grads are unemployed or underemployed, a figure no doubt amplified by the very bad economy.

So anyone attending college today needs to understand some crucial things that will form the new normal for some time to come and why these factors should directly determine what you major in:

1. It will matter to employers what you studied, even if the job has not historically required a degree.

Work habits and self discipline are the key virtues employers seek. A graduate with an accounting degree might not find an accounting job, but rare is the student who can successfully complete the degree without both those virtues.

So with the job market being an employer's market, hiring managers for non-technical jobs will likely use the technical difficulty of an earned degree as an indicator of whether you are a good prospect. Absolutely any degree whatsoever that ends with the word "studies" is utterly useless for demonstrating focus and self discipline.

2. The "degree required" bar has been greatly lowered and will stay there for many years.

Is a college degree really needed for janitorial work? Of course not. But as more and more new janitorial hires possess a bachelor degree, it will become normative for their employers to expect. Even if the economy improves, it will be a long time before actual degree-required jobs are plentiful enough to return the mass ranks of janitorial hires to high school education only.

This being so, you must face a crucial question with all the compassion of a Swiss banker; "Is college worth the price?"

3. No matter your dream of employment, computational competency, clarity of expression and computer literacy will be dominant virtues of value to employers.

Forget the sell job that colleges like to tell you about "finding out who you are" there. You can spend a lot less than four years doing that and get paid for it to boot.

You are going to college to learn skill sets that will enable you to make a living. No matter what courses you take, when you graduate you must be literate, numerate and computer competent - and that last does not mean gaming.

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