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  • Seventy Percent of Class of 2016 Grads Planned to Enter Work Force

    August 17, 2016 | By NACE Staff

    Student Attitudes
    Graduates from the Class of 2016 await their diplomas.

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    August 17, 2016

    How graduating students perceive the college hiring market is reflected in what they plan to do immediately after leaving school. For the Class of 2016, 69 percent of bachelor’s degree graduates planned to enter the work force and 25 percent planned to continue their education, according to results of NACE’s Class of 2016 Student Survey.

    In addition, 6 percent anticipated taking time off. All of these numbers are similar to last year’s graduates. (See Figure 1.) In fact, there has not been much movement since 2008.

    At the peak of the pre-recession market, 73.3 percent of students planned to enter the work force and 21 percent planned to continue onto graduate school. As the job market rapidly shrank in the immediate wake of the recession, graduate school became a more common pursuit.

    In 2009, 65.7 percent of students planned to enter the work force and 29 percent planned to continue their education. Since then students have been gradually drawn back to the work force—albeit, not in large numbers—and away from graduate school.

    Moreover, the more specific paths of students who planned to enter the work force have also shifted over the last several years. (See Figure 2.) Perhaps bolstered by an improving job market, students since 2010 have become increasingly drawn to a private sector job—already the most common path of employment—and less drawn to a nonprofit sector job or a teaching position. Opting for a government job or an entrepreneurial venture (i.e. starting a business) in particular have remained far less common.

    NACE’s 2016 Student Survey was conducted February 16 – April 30, 2016; more than 23,000 students at colleges and universities nationwide took part, including 5,600 graduating seniors. The survey report will be available in September.

    Figure 1: Post-graduation plans of graduating seniors: 2007-2016

    Class Year Post-Graduation Plan
    Enter Work Force Continue Education Take Time Off
    2007 73.3% 21.0% 5.7%
    2008 68.6% 26.2% 5.2%
    2009 65.7% 29.0% 5.3%
    2010 67.3% 28.4% 4.3%
    2011 67.9% 26.6% 5.5%
    2012 68.2% 26.8% 5.0%
    2013 67.4% 26.1% 6.5%
    2014 67.2% 26.2% 6.6%
    2015 68.6% 25.7% 5.7%
    2016 68.5% 25.1% 6.4%
    Source: Class of 2016 Student Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 2: Labor force interests of graduating seniors planning to enter the work force: 2010-2016

    Class Year Labor Force Interest
    Private Sector Nonprofit Sector/Teaching Government Own Business
    2010 52.7% 33.0% 11.8% 2.5%
    2011 56.3% 31.8% 9.4% 2.5%
    2012 57.7% 31.7% 8.6% 2.0%
    2013 56.8% 31.1% 9.5% 2.5%
    2014 59.5% 28.6% 9.2% 2.8%
    2015 56.2% 30.1% 11.4% 2.2%
    2016 60.0% 27.1% 10.5% 2.4%
    Source: Class of 2016 Student Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers