Graduates Postpone Job Hunt as Gap Years Take Off

Times Higher Education, March 27, 2014 | Go to article overview

Graduates Postpone Job Hunt as Gap Years Take Off


Poor career prospects fuel rise in US university leavers seeking 'funemployment', says Jon Marcus

Cornell University student Michelle Huang is an undergraduate majoring in international labour relations with a minor in law and society. She plans to go to law school after graduating this spring.

But not right away. She will spend a year travelling in Asia, one of a small but growing number of American students postponing work or further study in a sluggish employment market and instead opting for what has come to be known in the US as "funemployment".

"You spend so much time in college and then in graduate school focused on the academic side of your field, and I wanted real-world experience," Ms Huang said. In addition, she said, "the tough economic climate makes people more willing to consider other options, rather than just taking a job they don't really want".

Unlike in other countries, such as the UK, the post-graduation gap year is new to US higher education, and still rare; only 5.5 per cent of students surveyed this year by the National Association of Colleges and Employers said that they would take the year off after graduation to travel or do work unrelated to their studies. But that is almost double the proportion who did so just four years ago.

Ed Koc, the NACE's director of research, said that is likely to be a response to the "really abysmal" job market faced by new graduates during that time.

The unemployment rate for university graduates peaked at more than 13 per cent in 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, and has fallen only gradually since then. …

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