Business, Engineering and Tech Grads Lead the Class of 2016

Posted By Terri Williams on January 12, 2016 at 9:26 am
Business, Engineering and Tech Grads Lead the Class of 2016

While all graduates in the Class of 2016 can expect better employment options than the previous class, employers seem to favor students who majored in certain disciplines.

According to the Job Outlook 2016 report, conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), companies plan to hire the most employees from business, engineering, and technology.

Below is the percentage of survey respondents who plan to hire graduates with a bachelor’s degree in one of these five broad categories:

Broad Degree Category % of Respondents
Business 69.40%
Engineering 66.70%
Computer & Information Sciences 57.80%
Math & Sciences 27.80%
Communications 22.20%

This chart shows the percentage of survey respondents who plan to hire graduates with a bachelor’s degree in one of these top 11 majors:

Specific Major % of Respondents
Accounting 54.40%
Computer Science 53.90%
Finance 50.60%
Business Administration/Management 47.80%
Mechanical Engineering 46.10%

So what’s driving demand for business, engineering, and tech grads? GoodCall assembled a team of experts to explain two of the primary factors.

Skill set

At every level of business, companies are looking for graduates with specific skills. While engineers are in demand in certain sectors, business and tech skills are desirable in every industry, and Brian Cute, CEO of Washington, D.C.-based Public Interest Registry, says it should come as no surprise that these disciplines top NACE’s Job Outlook list.

“Many nonprofit leaders that I work with across the country need savvy business professionals to drive fundraising growth as much as they need IT professionals who can ensure the technology needed to tell their organization’s stories – whether it be to investors, donors or consumers – is up and running.”

And according to Cute, it’s not just non-profits. “Companies across verticals are competing for qualified STEM professionals to fill a variety of critical roles, and this competition will only intensify as technology continues to become a larger part of everyday business operations,” says Cute.

But technological breakthroughs aren’t the only factor fueling demand. “The world is changing around us—and fast. Businesses are feeling the unprecedented impact of rapid demographic changes, economic shifts, and urbanization,” says Rod Adams, PricewaterhouseCooper US Recruiting Leader. To keep up, he says companies need employees who can help their organizations adapt to the new normal, drive innovation, and lead change. “In addition to business acumen, leadership, communication and relationship skills, skills in data analytics and information management are more valuable than ever, and we believe STEM training delivers critical thinking and quantitative skills that create value for our clients,” says Adams.

And business students are in demand because they have a great balance of hard and soft skills, according to Amanda Earle, associate director of career advising at the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Business students are trained to be able to dive into data, make meaning and connections with the data, and then tell a clear and concise story through written and oral communications to both internal and external stakeholders.”  Earle says the ability to understand data and know how to effectively communicate it is crucial to helping businesses make important decisions for the bottom line.

Talent shortage/hoarding

Another factor increasing demand may be a shortage of qualified candidates. “As a staffing solutions company focused on delivering IT and engineering skills, we have continued to observe increases in demand for STEM college graduates – especially in the verticals of aerospace, financial services, automotive and high tech,” says Amy Vasquez, vice president and head of US Enterprise Talent Solutions for CDI Corporation.

Vasquez says baby boomers will continue to retire in large numbers over the next few years, creating a need for graduates who can step in and fill the void.

However, Steve Rothberg, president and founder of College Recruiter, says demand may also be driven by a perceived shortage of talent. “To an economist, the efforts made by employers to hire these candidates may look more like an issue of a lack of supply rather than excess demand, but another way of looking at the imbalance is that some employers are essentially hoarding talent.” However, Rothberg says it is not unusual to hear his clients say that they’re hiring now because they fear that if they wait, these candidates won’t be available.

Rothberg compares this situation to the lack of non-perishable food and bottled water available whenever there is a threat of a hurricane or other type of major storm. “The effect of the hoarding is that far more people buy far more than they need far earlier than they need it, and so the lack of availability of the supplies creates the perception of a shortage of the supplies when the reality is that the supply is actually plentiful.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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