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Prospects For College Grads Entering The Workforce

Prospects For College Grads Entering The Workforce
How hospitable is the job market and what sectors are good places for grads to look for jobs in San Diego?

GLORIA PENNER (Host): This will be of particular interest to people who live with recent college grads or college grads or anybody dependent on college grads to earn a living. After many years of hard work and many thousands of dollars spent, 10,000 students will graduate from San Diego State University this month, thousands more will graduate from UCSD, USD and other area colleges and universities, and after at least four years of hard work some will go on to graduate school but most will try to enter the job market. So, Barbara, for those who try to enter working, the work world in San Diego right after graduation, how hospitable is the job market here?

BARBARA BRY (Associate Publisher/Executive Editor, Oh, Gloria, it’s a little bit better than last year but, you know, I really feel very sorry for the young people who are graduating from college this year. They’re going to have a very hard time finding a job in San Diego.

PENNER: Well, that’s for the people who are graduating but they are going to enter the job market. So with the infusion of thousands of graduates into the local market, will the unemployment figures, which are already dreadful, they’re over 11%, be driven upwards?


BRY: Yeah, I think that they may be driven up a little bit but at the same time we are seeing new job creation. I mean, for the first time in, you know, a long time, the number of new jobs being created in San Diego and across the country is going up. And I think there are sectors which are very promising so I would encourage students to, you know, look for jobs in healthcare technology, mobile media, data mining, geriatric healthcare and a few other areas.

PENNER: Why those particular areas? What is it about those areas that are pulling in the new graduates?

BRY: Well, it’s not necessarily that they’re pulling in the new graduates, it’s areas where there’s going to be a demand for skilled people. And this is from a report that UCSD Extended Studies is putting out. It’ll actually be up on the SDNN site on Monday, and it talks about 14 areas that are promising for recent college graduates to look for jobs.

PENNER: Our number is 1-888-895-5727, 895-KPBS. This is a timely topic. A lot of graduations are happening now, this week, next week, and then you’re going to have all those people who were used to spending their time studying not having to study anymore but instead have to work. What do you expect is going to happen to them and how do you feel about the job market? Our number again, 1-888-895-5727, 895-KPBS. All right, with this kind of competition, Kent, will new grads – Let me put it differently. We have a lot of people who have lost their jobs in this down market.

KENT DAVY (Editor, North County Times): That’s right.


PENNER: And now we have this influx of, you know, newly minted fresh people. What kind of competition will they offer to all the people who are out there searching for jobs now?

DAVY: Well, to the extent that an employer wants an experienced job person over an inexperienced person, you’ve got a default right there. You know, when I look at my newsroom and I’m hiring reporters, we always assume that a reporter obtains in the first five years of their work the bulk of the experience they need to do their job and be an effective reporter. So somebody with three or four years of experience has certainly got a huge advantage over somebody who is just coming into—just coming into—the market. A different way to look at this, and I think it’s interesting, if you look at what is happening to our school districts with layoff notices, given the structure of the way the contracts are, you take bright people right out of college, full of vim and vigor to go teach and pursue not only a career but often a passion to teach, and they are the very first one given a pink slip and discouraged and said, you know what, you’re out of a job. No contract for you. It – There are some things that are topsy-turvy. One final note about this whole notion and that is the job growth that we have had is, probably by a majority, is of government jobs and it is the government that is out of money.

PENNER: Umm-hmm. Our number is 1-888-895-5727, 895-KPBS. What about at Channel 10, JW August? You know, as you start looking around at possibly new hires, when you get this new crop of prospective employees, what effect will that have on salaries and wages?

JW AUGUST (Managing Editor, KGTV 10News): Well, the problem is for them to get the job initially. When a intern or a researcher or somebody that’s coming out in their last year asks me what I think, I tell them something that was passed down to me years ago: Think plastics.

PENNER: What does that mean?

AUGUST: Nothing. I was just kidding, Gloria.

BRY: That was from the movie, “The Graduate.”

AUGUST: Anyway…

PENNER: I barely remember that movie.

AUGUST: I don’t. It’s one of my favorites. Anyway…

PENNER: I remember Anne Bancroft and that’s it.

AUGUST: Ah, Mrs. Robinson.


AUGUST: There’s not a lot – In our business, like a lot of business, even like the newspaper business, it’s contracting, it’s under turmoil and it’s changing because of the internet and the dynamics and the number of options for people to get their news. It’s very difficult for people to break in. What I tell people coming into my business is be as versatile as possible. It used to be if you come into the news business, you were a one trick pony and you only needed to do one thing. But now you need to be able to multi-task. You need to be able to work on a website, you need to be – write broadcast style, you got to be able to shoot and edit. Those are survival skills. But first you got to get your foot in the door. And, of course, I can’t talk about our salaries but I know the salaries are trending downwards. Anchors used to make a ton of money. They don’t now because there’s pressure on the system.

PENNER: Well, the truth is there aren’t that many anchor jobs available anyway and they seem really glamorous when people go for them but that…

AUGUST: Well, even reporters, it affects – What happens to them affects everybody down the line.

PENNER: Yes, it does, and – Yes, Kent.

DAVY: The – I think that there – as the economy starts to pull up and out of the recession that you’re in, typically what happens is employers, first of all, try and produce productivity with existing workforce and ask people to work a little extra longer, a little bit of overtime, be a little faster. They’ll – The system changes to allow them so that the decision to add actual new bodies gets pushed off in time a little bit. So if, indeed, we are coming out of this recession now, as we go through the remainder of this year there ought to be an increasing demand for new hires and new opportunities then as businesses are able economically to sustain the growth.

BRY: Yeah, and picking up on what Kent said, then after workers get – companies get increased productivity out of their existing workforce, they bring in temporary workers on a contract basis and they don’t guarantee them a full time job until they’re really sure that the economy’s better. So I think, you know, a number of the college grads can probably get some of these temporary positions which can lead to something full time. And I think another advantage a recent college grad has is they’re probably the most up to date on the current technology and they’re prob – maybe more skilled than someone who’s been – in a certain area than someone who’s been in the workforce for a long time.

AUGUST: But I would like to say one thing. I don’t think this temp job thing is going away. It’s been evolving over the last 10 years and I think a lot of companies look at hiring temps and keeping temps because their costs are much lower per employee.

PENNER: And no benefits.


PENNER: Okay. Our number is 1-888-895-5727. We’re talking about the job market for recent college grads in San Diego. And on the line with us now is Lori Saldana from Mission Valley. Lori Saldana, our member of the Assembly, California State Assembly.

AUGUST: Right.

PENNER: Lori, you’re on the line with the editors.

LORI SALDANA (California State Assemblywoman): Well, good morning and thank you for this topic because I think looking at the employment trends in light of the budget revise coming out from the governor’s office today is important. What we see is…

PENNER: Wait, Lori. Lori, let me interrupt you. A lot of people may not know about this budget revise. Why don’t you just very briefly tell us what you’re talking about.

SALDANA: The governor introduces a budget at the start of the year and then depending on how our revenues flow throughout the spring, he does a revisional budget that is due out today.


SALDANA: And so I think what that will reflect are some changes that we didn’t have the revenues we had hoped for in part because our income tax payments that were due last month weren’t at the level we had hoped. But what we’re also seeing over time is more people working for lower wages regardless of the college graduates flooding the market or not, and, increasingly, women supporting households, and women still are making less in occupations than men. And so this is a report that was released this week that shows, you know, overall wages and salaries have declined but it’s especially hard-hitting on women who are supporting their families which has increased as more men in manufacturing and industry have lost their jobs in this recession over the last few years.

PENNER: Thank you very much for that information. We appreciate it. And I was just thinking, we’ve been talking about college grads, what chances to get jobs do high school grads have who are not planning to continue their education, Barbara?

BRY: Well, you know, I think if they go into a skilled field in the – well, construction is not doing well now but I think the construction industry is going to come back, so if you can be a skilled electrician or a skilled carpenter or a plumber, you don’t – Not everybody has to have a four-year college degree to make a good living, and there’s certainly – You know, I was at a very interesting green economy seminar in San Diego earlier this week and there certainly is a push to have very good what are called green collar jobs that provide families with a livable wage.

PENNER: Okay, well we are going to come back to this in just a moment. We’re going to take a fast break and when we come back, we’ll continue talking about the job market, recent college grads, actually anybody who’s looking for a job, and we will take your calls. Our number is 1-888-895-5727, 895-KPBS. This is the Editors Roundtable. I’m Gloria Penner.

PENNER: So there you are, you just heard it, we just congratulated the more than 10,000 graduates from the Class of 2010 at San Diego State University. And that’s what we’re talking about, what are they going to do next? Those who aren’t going on to graduate school, what are they going to do about the job market? That’s our topic right now and with me to share that topic is JW August of 10News and Kent Davy from the North County Times, and from, Barbara Bry, and of course you and your phone calls. So let’s start right out with Daniel in Kensington. Daniel, you’re on with the editors.

DANIEL (Caller, Kensington): Hi, good morning. Thank you for taking my call.

PENNER: Certainly.

DANIEL: Yeah, I just wanted to make a comment. I’m a recent graduate myself and I’m finding that the job market as it is, you know, it doesn’t really matter which field it in (sic), it’s difficult to start. And, you know, a lot of college students like myself had to get student loans and there seems to be just a wider and wider discrepancy between the minimum payment even with ultimate payment plans and the available amount of money out there in the market for new graduates.

PENNER: Okay, let’s hear from JW August on that.

AUGUST: Well, if I can brag a little bit on our I-Team, we recently did a story where we found out what Sallie Mae does to people that start missing payments. You can have a $15,000 loan to get through college and if you miss a payment and you’re not working closely with the agency, the lending agency, you can owe $85,00 or $90,000 in a couple years. And it’s not just a single incidence. A number of attorneys are now getting involved and going after Sallie Mae for this because when you borrow a college loan, you have none of the credit protections or the information provided to you if you were buying a house, a car, you don’t have that type of information. And they make a great deal of money dinging these students and their families, and then they go after then.

PENNER: I want to leave people with some positive thoughts. Kent Davy, military advocates report about how much the military contributes to San Diego economically. You know, aside from enlisting in one of the services, is the military a good place for young civilian graduates to go for jobs?

DAVY: Well, there are quite a few civilian employees at Camp Pendleton. I don’t remember the exact number anymore but, as I recall, it was about a one-to-one ratio of civilian to active duty out there. Additionally, San Diego is actually going to come to a benefit, and it’s the one piece of the construction industry right now that is getting a real boost in the arm, is there is about $2 billion worth of construction slated for Camp Pendleton over the next period – short period of – relatively short period of time, including a new hospital and other things.

PENNER: How would that benefit a college grad?

DAVY: It benefits a college grad because contractors have to hire to have workers to come on and build these buildings, so that is – it’s employment.

PENNER: We have time for one more call. We’ll take it from Alomar in Imperial County. Alomar, welcome to the Editors Roundtable.

ALOMAR (Caller, Imperial County): Hello. One of the requests that I had for kids that are coming out of college to get experience, volunteering would be one way that they could get a lot of experience even though they’re not going to get paid. There’s a lot of newspapers, radio stations, there’s a lot of things that they, I’m sure, would be glad to have people who are qualified like that to volunteer.


DAVY: That’s true, although with regard to internship programs, the federal government has signaled that it’s going to start stepping down on employers who have unpaid internships. It’s basically the, you know, the slave wage – labor for experience.

PENNER: Barbara.

BRY: Yeah, I’d like to comment. When SDNN hires interns for the summer, we do give them a stipend during the school year. If they just spend four to eight hours a week with us, they get academic credit. And I think it’s totally appropriate to provide compensation to interns. However, volunteering for a nonprofit may be different so you might volunteer for the Red Cross. So let’s say you were a marketing major in college, you know, go on the marketing committee for the Red Cross or the Salvation Army or, you know, the American Heart Association, whatev – or the Girl Scouts, whatever you’re interested in. So I see a big difference between the for-profit sector and the nonprofit sector, and I’ve often advised people of all ages who are looking for a job to get involved with a nonprofit that’s their passion also, and through that they get to show what they can do and they’re also going to meet a lot of people and do good at the same time.

PENNER: You know, I can’t tell you how many KPBS employees started out in some capacity as volunteers…

AUGUST: Right.

PENNER: …and then came right up. Do you have something…?

AUGUST: Well, I was just going to say I was an intern, too, and what Barbara says is right on. I think today was – it was easier to get a job when I was coming out of school. You have to be really creative, think out of the box. That’s kind of time worn but the truth is you have to be creative.

PENNER: Just one final question for you, Barbara. A fast one. We talked about the fields in which people can probably or most likely find jobs. Are there any fields that they should really avoid? Can you think of any?

AUGUST: Well, the cartel business.

BRY: Yes.

PENNER: Cartel.


BRY: Well, probably selling real estate in San Diego.

AUGUST: Yeah, for now.

BRY: And I think we probably still have too many attorneys. I think law school graduates are going to have a hard time for the next few years.

DAVY: But they are having a hard time. They’re still…

BRY: Yeah, they’re still going to have a hard time, yeah.

PENNER: Okay, well thank you all very much. Let’s move on to politics.