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  • Students’ Post-Grad Plans Show Confidence in Job Market

    September 27, 2017 | By NACE Staff

    Trends & Predictions
    College graduates discuss what's next.

    TAGS: trends and predictions, student attitudes, surveys, spotlight

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    Among the Class of 2017, 70.8 percent of students planned to enter the work force after graduating and 23.2 percent planned to continue their education, according to results of NACE’s Class of 2017 Student Survey Report.

    These results resemble those for the pre-recession Class of 2007 more closely than any other class in 10 years. (See Figure 1.)

    Why is this significant? How graduating seniors perceive their job market prospects is reflected in what they plan to do immediately after graduation—namely, whether they plan to enter the work force, continue their education, or take time off.

    Among the Class of 2007, the first graduating class surveyed by the Student Survey, 73.3 percent of students planned to enter the work force and 21 percent planned to continue their education. As the job market contracted in the run-up to and eventual fallout from the recession, delaying entry into the work force by pursuing further education became a more common recourse.

    As the market has gradually improved, students have slowly become drawn back to the work force and away from further schooling.

    This increasingly positive outlook is reflected in how the specific labor force interests of students who planned to enter the work force have shifted throughout the post-recession years. From 2010 to 2017, students have expressed a growing, albeit somewhat intermittent, interest in private sector employment, while interest in the nonprofit sector has waned slightly. (See Figure 2.)

    NACE’s Class of 2017 Student Survey was conducted from February 15 to April 30, 2017; more than 21,000 students at colleges and universities nationwide took part, including 4,200 graduating seniors. The survey report will be available later this fall.

    Figure 1: What Students Planned to Do Immediately After Graduation, 2007-17

    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%
    2017 70.8% 23.2% 6.1%
    Source: Class of 2017 Student Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 2: Labor Force Interests of Students Who Planned to Enter the Work Force, 2010-17

    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%
    2017 56.5% 28.2% 12.3% 3.1%
    Source: Class of 2017 Student Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers