I haven’t looked at career education from a return-on-investment perspective in a while–but the price of a new mentorship program by TAG for university and college students, got me thinking about it.
For the grad class of 2009, many have been out of school without a job for six months now. According to NACE research, “Currently, the overall average salary offer made to all bachelor’s degree graduates is $49,353.” (NACE’s 2009 Salary Survey) So on average, being unemployed has carried an opportunity cost of almost $25,000.
But, was there an opportunity to begin with? There is no question that the number of job options available to new grads has decreased over the past year–hiring is down 22% according to employers NACE surveyed in its Spring 2009 Job Outlook. It is out of proportion though, to the increase in the percentage of grads who find themselves without work at graduation–19.8% compared to 51% in 2007 (NACE, May 2009). The differential would suggest to me, that for the jobs that are available, students need to be more skilled at finding and landing them.
When it is easier to find work and companies are banging down the doors of universities and colleges to find fresh talent, half of students transition into the employment market right out of the gates. But as soon as recessionary forces come to bear and finding a job requires career management skills–eight out of ten grads find themselves unemployed.
How do we decrease the elasticity of unemployment for new grads? 4 out of 5 career experts would agree (I was brainwashed by the toothpaste commercials from my youth), that career education is most effective in the fight against employment decay. I believe that we can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the school-to-career transition in all economic climates, by engaging students in career management skills.
TAG’s program got me thinking about ROI, because it is the first program that I’ve come across that charges the student for its career mentoring service and pays the mentor. As a student (or parent) how much would I invest to improve my ability to launch my career? My first step would be to explore and compare the services offered by my schools career centre–from my distant recollections of math class, free always returns the best ratio. But I wouldn’t hesitate paying $1,000 or more for expert services. Look at the price and compare it to its probability of improving your time to land a job that is the right fit for you. For the thousands of students looking back at six months ($25,000) of lost earning potential, I’m sure that many would consider that a good return-on-investment.
*There are many great programs and resources (on and off campus) for students that are currently being offered by career experts–please mention these in the comments section (particularly if you’ve received a great ROI)*
Authors Note: I used some economics terminology in this post that I haven’t reviewed since 2001–please don’t judge me too harshly if it was used incorrectly. I spent more time focusing on my career than my academic study.
(A number of the NACE statistics that I sited can be found in TAG’s information rich presentation available at: http://www.slideshare.net/secret/xbldyiJSYdtOFB)