NEW YORK (MainStreet) — About 36% of all college-educated workers wished they'd chosen a different college major and one-third work in occupations unrelated to their college specialty, according to a new report.
That's because universities spend little time educating their freshman year students on the correlating career path of the majors they pick, according to David Lewis, president of OperationsInc, a human resources outsourcing and consulting firm.
"Students need to be shown how their degree study can connect to their career path yet it just does not happen," Lewis told MainStreet.
A CareerBuilder study found that the first job of 47% of university-educated workers was not related to their college specialty.
"Employers don't hire people because of their majors," said Dr. David DeLong, author of Graduate to a Great Job: Make Your College Degree Pay Off in Today's Market (Longstone Press, 2013). "They hire them for their skills and and the skills required by companies today are much more complicated than 20 years ago. Employers need workers who can handle sophisticated technologies and operate in a generationally and ethnically diverse environment. Many college grads lack the types of experience firms are looking for."
Of those who said the demand for their degree decreased while they were in school, 33% also said they were forced to take a lower paying job outside their field, and 32% said the lack of demand meant they couldn't find work after graduation.
"There are numerous factors contributing to taking a lower-paying job," said Nathan Parcells, co-founder of InternMatch. "In addition to the lack of available jobs, many institutions have not prepared students to be savvy job seekers."
About 32% report never having found a job related to their college major. That number is 31% for workers 35 and older.
"While these numbers aren't surprising in the least, they do indicate that job seekers need to work harder to obtain their dream jobs," Parcells told MainStreet. "For example, recent grads shouldn't be afraid to take on a few internships after graduation. Many programs are not only paid but also offer the chance to keep skills fresh, résumés up-to-date and provide ample networking opportunities as well as access to executives."
Finding employment unrelated to a college major doesn't appear to be discouraging to 64% of employees who say they're happy with the degree they chose and with 61% believing they can still have their dream job.
"In most cases, workers who went into a new field ended up liking the new industry," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. "Odds are you won't get that dream job right out of school but it's important to remember that there are many different paths."
Graduating into a depressed job market set back job seekers in a number of ways.
"They may have been promised certain outcomes by their institutions or former employers but things did not turn out the way they planned and they've had to take on jobs or become part of industries that are far from what they imagined," Parcells said.
--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet