Experience beats advanced college degrees in the COVID-19 economy

Experience beats advanced college degrees in the COVID-19 economy
Phillip Gardner, director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute.
Phillip Gardner, director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Findings in the latest report from the Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) show job market demand for graduates with masters degrees and MBAs is declining.
Findings in the latest report from the Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) show job market demand for graduates with masters degrees and MBAs is declining. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - College graduates with advanced degrees are feeling the pressure from COVID-19 in an unexpected way.

Findings in the latest report from the Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) show job market demand for graduates with masters degrees and MBAs is declining.

“(COVID-19) is generating economic problems the economy didn’t really foresee,” Phillip Gardner, CERI Director said. “You can’t just walk in and hope at a career fair, even if it’s virtual, to get a job. You’ve got to be prepared, you’ve got to do more research about companies, you have to be more prepared going into these virtual interviews because they’re different. And you have to persist.”

MBAs in particular are seeing a double digit drop in demand from nervous employers. Recent UofL MBA grads describe intense competition from hundreds of applicants for a single job.

“I was seeing that at a couple of different positions I was applying for but it also gave me hope,” MBA graduate Sara Michels said. “It wasn’t a complete shut out for positions that I was applying for.”

Graduates who landed jobs found previous work experience was very attractive to employers.

“In order to get some of the jobs I thought I was more qualified for, I would need that additional experience,” MBA graduate Micah Brown said. “Because I think having education alone wasn’t enough at the time.”

Professionals seem to be taking advantage of the opportunity. Demand for an MBA at the University of Louisville is up among people who already have jobs.

“Working professionals in the city of Louisville still need a premier, top research university MBA they can take while they’re working,” Dean Todd Mooradian of the UofL College of Business said. “And that program’s enrollment actually went up 20% in August.”

The brightest outlook seems to be for graduates with specialized associates degrees.

New hires are expected to grow in some sectors by more than 30 percent.

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