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The Voice of the Black Community


College degree no guarantee of work
Black graduates more likely to be jobless
Published Wednesday, June 18, 2014 6:57 am
by Alannah Covington

Is college worth attending in order to have your dream career?

Christopher Montague doesn’t think so.

Montague, 20, dropped out of N.C. A&T State University because he thought a degree was unnecessary to become an entrepreneur.  

“I decided during the summer of 2013 that college isn’t the only option to being successful, so I chose a different route” said Montague, who lives in Greensboro. Montague wants to take the path of being his own boss, and being an entrepreneur was Montague’s focus. “ Having a college degree is usually beneficial, especially in the corporate work place. However, the goal is to obtain a job or start a career in your field of study that will sustain your livelihood. For all college graduates, underemployment was relatively steady at about 33 percent. The rate also changed little for black graduates at about 40 percent a report by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Economic and Policy Research.

“While some college graduates are finding financial success in the labor market in jobs that don’t typically require a college degree, a growing share have had no such luck,” CEPR researchers Janelle Jones and John Schmitt wrote in a report titled “A College Degree is No Guarantee” published last month. “Instead, they are working in jobs that don’t require a four-year degree and don’t pay more than $25,000; this is especially true for young black graduates.”

Montague has stepped into entrepreneurship by starting his own business, JAC Enterprise.

“JAC Enterprise is my sole venture; it specializes in temporary labor and entrepreneurial investment,” he said. “We’ll achieve government funding by endorsing the college workforce.”
In 2013, more than half (55.9 percent) of recently employed black college graduates were “underemployed,” or defined as working in an occupation that typically does not require a four-year college degree. Even before the Great Recession, almost half of recent black graduates were underemployed. In 1979, 6.2 percent of black graduates were unemployed, according to CEPR.

Black college graduates who’ve earned degrees recently in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, have fared somewhat better, but still suffer from high unemployment and underemployment rates. For example, from 2010 to 2012, among black graduates with degrees in engineering, the average unemployment rate was 10 percent and the underemployment rate was 32 percent according to CEPR.

Monique Outlaw, an A&T graduate with an industrial engineering degree, is now a cashier at a Charlotte Target.

“When I graduated in 2009, my expectation was to find a good job in my field and work for a major Fortune 500 company,” she said.

Universities encourage students to attain internships to enhance their resume, but it did not help Outlaw, who had a summer internship with a Salisbury hospital as a time study analyst, an industrial engineering position. Outlaw thought it would help her land a professional job, yet it was not definite due to changing employee demands.

“I just finished my MBA in March with the hope of standing out more amongst other candidates with less education, looking at the same type of job,” she said.


Great Article! I agree that finding a position that adequately pays with a college degree is not as easy as it was 15 years ago. More and More individuals are pursuing higher education such as graduate degrees and this makes the competition greater. I think that by focusing on internships every summer helps. Employers look for consistency and job work ethic combined with educational skills.
Posted on June 20, 2014
Very nice...thanks..
Posted on June 18, 2014

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