New data reveals college graduate job prospects

Prospective college students will soon be able to evaluate institutions based on their likelihood of yielding jobs after graduation.

“Until now, it has been almost impossible for students to include in their deliberations what graduating from specific colleges and their programs is likely to yield in terms of jobs and salaries after graduation. But that is starting to change,” writes Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute‘s College Excellence Program, in The Washington Post.

The Wage Records Interchange System, a Labor Department data-sharing partnership with the states, will consolidate state-level employment and earnings data on students who graduate from various programs and colleges. The system enables a student to drill down to a specific degree at different colleges to assess which school and program offers the best chance of post-graduation employment. Twenty-two states had signed on by May 2012, with more expected to join.

Alongside the Labor Department data, the Education Department‘s “Gainful Employment Reports” will further illuminate employment and earnings information of recent graduates of the nation’s most popular technical certificate programs.

Such developments mark a dramatic shift from data that merely assesses graduation rates toward a metric that measures labor market outcomes, and could lead to colleges investing in programs that lead to available jobs. Wyner suggests colleges can take advantage of the new data by tailoring their programs to the most urgent labor market needs.

“It is estimated that up to a million jobs in the country right now are going begging — literally, up to a million jobs that are empty because we don’t have workers who are skilled for those jobs,” Wyner notes. “Here’s a suggestion: take money from programs and courses completely disconnected form good employment outcomes, and beef up the ones that lead to solid jobs.”

Lee Simmons

Lee Simmons is a business writer in Austin. He covers the technology and media industries for Hoover's and offers random musings on the state of entertainment (among other pressing issues) for Bizmology. Follow him at Twitter.

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