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College grads still face a struggle to find that first good job

The American employment picture may finally be brightening a bit, but for the tens of thousands of young people being handed diplomas in the next few weeks at colleges and universities across the land, more gloom is in the forecast.

A recent report from the Economic Policy Institute said unemployment and underemployment for recent college graduates remained high and the millennial generation will face lower earnings for 10 to 20 years.

A 2012 survey indicated that a whopping 52% of college grads under the age of 25 were working at jobs that did not require a college degree. All that studying and all those college loans have not gotten them very far very fast.

Nevertheless, young Americans remain optimistic. A study by Accenture, a consulting firm, found that 15% of new graduates expected to earn less than $25,000 at their first job and two-thirds assumed they would find work in their field of study. The experience of 2011 and 2012 grads proved to be different, however. A third of them are making less than $25,000 annually and only half are doing work that matches the degree they earned.

In a country that claims to care about its children and operates on the premise that things should get better for every generation, we are not doing well.

Colleges need to do more than grind out grads while reaping ever-more-outrageous tuition fees. They need to prove the diploma is worth the price by providing transitional programs into the working world. And America’s employers, instead of sitting on their profits and failing to offer more than a few unpaid internships, need to provide additional training when necessary and a real living wage, which is always necessary. Mostly, they need to show faith in the future and start hiring.

Kids with only a high school diploma already face a life of dim prospects and poverty-level wages. Are the immense talents of our college grads going to be wasted in the same way?

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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