This is very good year to graduate from college. It’s a good year to graduate from high school, too.
The 2017 job market for entry-level workers could be the best in 15 years, according to tracking by CollegeGrad.com.
“It’s a job seeker’s market,” said Brian Krueger, CEO of the job website, adding that now – not after graduation – is the time to search.
One of the strong points about this year’s opportunities is that they exist for workers of all education levels, all skills and all interests. Case in point: remodeling jobs.
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A recent report by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies noted that two big generational shifts in housing preferences are fueling high demand for remodelers. Boomers are remodeling their houses to “age in place” and millennials, as first-time homebuyers, are remodeling affordable homes to better suit their preferences.
In addition, an economic development (or redevelopment) boom in many cities has created high demand for commercial construction workers. Welders, plumbers, carpenters, masons and others are desperately needed. Labor unions and construction firms are sponsoring training for high school graduates interested in the fields.
Health care opportunities also abound for high school graduates who are willing and interested in pursuing further training for hands-on jobs in nursing, elder care and laboratory assistance.
As usual, the best-paying jobs are begging for college graduates. In many industries and organizations, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum qualification for consideration.
What’s slightly better this year than in recent years past is the willingness of employers to provide on-the-job training for otherwise inexperienced workers. In the last deep recession, the in-house training industry took a mighty blow, but many human resource officers say it’s finally back.
The renewed maxim is that employers are willing to “hire for attitude, train for skills.”
That’s a bit too simplistic, of course. Skills – and the right degrees – are crucial to be considered for many positions. Computer science, engineering and accounting degrees open up worlds of opportunities not available to some arts degrees, for example.
But the especially good news about the 2017 job market is that in many U.S. cities there is practically a 1-to-1 relationship between the number of unemployed job hunters and the number of advertised job openings.
While that ratio offers a gilded path to employment for new graduates, it also helps mid-career workers interested in job changes. What more mature workers lack in a particular college degree, they may make up for in workplace experience.
But there’s danger when a job market approaches the “warm body” stage – when employers are forced to hire people they otherwise wouldn’t consider. The danger is that job hunters become too complacent, too lazy about working hard to take the right classes or develop the right skills.
It’s time to haul out grandpa’s advice: Nobody owes you a job. You have to earn it.