Survey: Employers Need Technical Degrees, Adaptable Workers

    Heads up, college graduates: If you adapt easily to change, chances are you’ll have a better chance of snagging that job you want.

    The Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates survey, conducted annually by the American Society of Employers, reveals a high demand for graduates with technical degrees and the ability to adapt behaviorally to different work environments.

    Mary E. Corrado, president and CEO of ASE
    Mary E. Corrado, president and CEO of ASE

    “The economy is cyclical and unpredictable, and the hottest job today may not exist four to six years from now,” said Mary E. Corrado, president and CEO of ASE. “However, this annual survey confirms that organizations are continuing to invest in co-ops and interns, jobs will again be available for students with technical degrees and, regardless of industry, students need to make sure they can adapt to different work environments.”

    The American Society of Employers (ASE) is a not-for-profit trade association in Livonia providing people-management information and services to Michigan employers. Since 1902, member organizations have relied on ASE to be their single, cost-effective source for information and support, helping to grow their bottom line by enhancing the effectiveness of their people.

    The annual survey provides a snapshot in time of current workforce conditions and what co-op students and recent college graduates can expect in terms of job availability and compensation. A total of 168 companies, 80 percent of them in the Metro Detroit region with an average of 760 employees,  and more than half classified as automotive suppliers, responded to the 2015 Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates survey.

    Survey highlights include:

    Hiring Trends:
    • Three out of four (74%) respondents say their company has hired, or plans to hire, a recent college graduate in 2015
    • More than half (56%) of those companies say hiring practices have remained the same in 2015 as 2014
    • 40% of the companies who have hired or plan to hire a recent graduate in 2015 have increased their hiring efforts this year
    • Statistically, the top six in-state institutions the responding companies actively recruit from are: 1) University of Michigan; 2) Michigan State University ; 3) Kettering University; 4) Oakland University ; 5) Michigan Technological University and Wayne State University (tied)
    • The top three most popular technical bachelor-degree disciplines hired in the past year were: 1) mechanical engineering; 2) electrical engineering; 3) computer science
    • The top three most popular non-technical bachelor-degree disciplines hired in the past year were: 1) business administration; 2) accounting; 3) human resources/labor relations
    • Automotive suppliers have increased hiring of bachelor-level mechanical engineers, resulting in a 16% increase in hiring among automotive suppliers compared to a year ago

    Candidate and Salary Trends:
    • The top three knowledge/skill factors organizations consider when making hiring decisions, in order, are: 1) computer skills; 2) related coursework (i.e., to the work required in the job); 3) work experience/internships
    • The top three shortcomings of recent college graduates are: 1) adaptability to the work environment (63%); 2) career expectations (60%); 3) compensation expectations (51%)
    • Only 6% of survey respondents would pay a premium if a graduate was from a specific school. However, when a company is willing to pay a premium, the majority will do so for University of Michigan graduates
    • Of the six disciplines named above (mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, business administration, accounting and human resources/labor relations), the highest starting salaries went to the engineering disciplines. Depending on the specific specialty, the starting engineering salaries ranged from $57,000 to $63,467; computer science came in on average at $54,495; finance at $51,038; accounting at $48,493; business administration at $46,099; and human resources at $45,488.
    • Pay rates for high school and college co-ops and interns were separated by  technical and non-technical roles; the average hourly rate for a college senior in a technical field is $17.23 an hour and $15.10 for a non-technical field; the average hourly rate for a college junior in a technical field is $16.02 an hour and $14.