Prospects for 2003 College Graduates. (Your Life)

Article excerpt

Pres. Bush's proposal to provide unemployed Americans with up to $3,000 to pay for job search services will not benefit the 2,300,000 college students expected to receive associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees this spring, according to John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., an international outplacement firm. This means these new entrants will be on their own in what can only be described as the toughest job market in over 10 years.

"This year's graduates will not only be competing with their fellow classmates, but they will also be facing off against many of last year's graduates who have yet to find a job or who were laid off from their first job. Additionally, there are job seekers who may have several years of experience and are willing to take an entry level job if it means getting back into the workforce," Challenger notes.

Average job search times for experienced managers and executives with salaries under $100,000 grew to four months in the fourth quarter of 2002, which is the longest average in 17 years of tracking by the firm. "If it is taking four months for experienced workers to find positions, imagine the length of time it could take someone with little or no practical experience."

Challenger urges this year's graduates to look toward job categories and industries that tend to remain stable regardless of the ups and downs of the economy because their services and goods are always in demand. "The hottest jobs for 2003 college graduates may lack the flair and glamour of web designer or online games host. However, they offer one thing that past hot jobs could not: job security.

"Certain areas of the service sector are more resistant to economic downturns--health care, law, insurance. You do not have to be a doctor, lawyer, or insurance agent to benefit, either. Organizations involved in these fields need support, administrative, and managerial staff, including accountants, marketing people, information technology specialists, etc. …

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