Job prospects look good for 2014 grads

By BenefitsPro

By Dan Cook

Come June, college grads better be ready to stash their diplomas and get to work. The economy’s picking up and employers are looking to hire these newly minted workhorses.

That’s the word from a survey of 100 HR professionals conducted by Challenger, Gray and Christmas. The bottom line: 64 percent of respondents said they’d be hiring from among the 1.8 million 2014 college grads.

Now, Challenger Gray noted that this is Year One of its college recruitment survey, so there aren’t figures to compare against from prior years.

Still, it said, “the fact that a majority of respondents reported plans to hire college graduates is certainly a positive sign for this year’s pool of entry-level job seekers. This, combined with continued improvements in the overall economy, contributed to an optimistic outlook for this year’s graduates,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Challenger cited “falling unemployment, increased hiring levels and the rising number of job openings as evidence of improving employment conditions for young job seekers.”

Nine of 10 employers surveyed who had hired college grads in the past said they would again be doing so this year. Just one in 10 said they never recruit college grads. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said “college graduates were very important or somewhat important to their organization’s overall recruiting and workforce development strategy,” the report said.

According to data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, starting salaries for 2014 graduates were up marginally (1.2 percent) compared to 2013.

Largest increases were for graduates in in health sciences, up 3.7 percent. Average starting salaries for business grads dropped slightly in year-to-year comparisons, “but, at $53,901, (it) still remains one of the top-paying entry-level fields,” the report said.

“Employers are still rebuilding their workforces in the wake of the Great Recession. Entry-level workers are an important part of the hiring mix, as they are needed not only to help meet immediate demand, but also to begin the process of shaping the organization’s future leadership,” said Challenger.

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