A question asked of many institutions across the nation is "what happens to college graduates after they receive their diploma?" Are they gainfully employed in the field they studied and do their investments in education pay off in the long run?
According to a recent article in The New York Times, "Is College Worth It? Clearly, New Data Say," the answer to whether a degree is still a valuable asset is a resounding yes. Based on an analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, the article states that, "Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree. That's up from 89 percent five years earlier, 85 percent a decade earlier and 64 percent in the early 1980s."
The benefit isn't limited to bachelor degree recipients. In a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, it reports that, "Associate-degree holders can expect to earn $41,900 per year by the middle of their careers, about $10,700 more than someone with just a high-school diploma earns at that point."
In a tri-isle community, high-wage employment opportunities can be more challenging to find and secure. To respond to this difficulty, University of Hawaii Maui College launched CareerLink about a year ago. This service maintains an expanding database of employers and job opportunities and connects students with internships and other career exploration and networking initiatives. It also provides Maui College graduates with the professional development skills they need to impress employers before and after they land a job. Students and graduates can prepare to compete by learning interviewing skills, participating in mock interviews and strengthening and refining their resumes, cover letters, orientation to online applications and portfolios through CareerLink.
These career development services are free for any Maui College student preparing to graduate in a certificate, associate or bachelor's degree program.
"We're here to help our UH-MC students and graduates succeed beyond graduation," said Juli Patao, CareerLink's program director. "CareerLink is a great resource for our community employers looking for UH-MC graduates who can add value to their businesses, agencies, organizations and other places of employment. While we're prioritizing our efforts to assist current students, we also serve UH-MC alumni. Workforce development is constantly evolving. These changes require updating skills, adapting to changes impacting industries, and addressing unmet needs. Our goal is to be a one-stop-shop for our students and alumni wherever they are in their careers."
CareerLink also gathers data on recent graduates, including where they are employed, if that employment matches the student's field of academic study or whether the student intends to pursue a higher degree. This year, CareerLink collected data on 91 percent of Maui College's 452 graduates who received their diplomas in the spring.
It will continue its efforts to locate graduates who have not yet responded to provide its services. Faculty, program coordinators, department chairs, student service programs and counselors supported this comprehensive initiative.
So where are graduates of the UH-MC class of 2014 headed? Nursing majors have found employment at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Community Clinic of Maui and Hale Makua; culinary arts graduates are working at Andaz Maui, Fairmont Kea Lani, Four Seasons Resort Maui, and the recently opened Montage; human services graduates have been employed by Aloha House and Maui Family Support Services; dental assisting and hygiene majors have been hired by Valley Isle Dental Center, Kihei Lahaina Orthodontics . . . and the list goes on.
Patao indicates that 65 percent of graduates are working, many placed as a direct result of CareerLink, and 46 percent are transferring to other institutions to continue their education. Efforts are ongoing to find positions for the remaining graduates.
A college degree will become increasingly important in the state of Hawaii. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2018, 65 percent of jobs in Hawaii will require some college, and according to the U.S. Census, just under 42 percent of Hawaii's adults have a two- or four-year college degree.
If you're thinking about pursuing a degree or would like to learn more about Maui College's CareerLink services, visit its website online at maui.hawaii.edu/careerlink. Employers interested in hiring a recent graduate or intern may also register online, or call 984-3318.
* Clyde Sakamoto is chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. Ka'ana Mana'o means "sharing thoughts," and the column appears on the fourth Sunday of each month. It is prepared with assistance from UH-Maui College staff and provides the community of Maui County information about opportunities available through the college at its Kahului campus and its education centers.