College commencement season in Georgia gets into full swing this weekend with thousands of students receiving diplomas and setting off on their next endeavors.
For most of these graduates, the workforce is the next stop. Fortunately, the economic outlook for graduates this year is relatively bright.
Nationally, employers plan to hire 5.2 percent more new college graduates in 2016 than they did the previous year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
It is notable that that NACE’s job projections were trimmed from the 11 percent hiring forecast initially reported in November. Much of the change can be attributed to a larger portion of employers reporting plans to trim hiring. Still, there is hope.
“This is the best time in 10 years to be graduating from college and hitting the job market,” said Jeffrey Dorfman, a professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Georgia, in reporting on job numbers for students at the state’s flagship institution. “Employers plan to hire more college grads this year than last, and the job market is generally pretty strong.
While employers are looking to hire, Georgia is looking to produce a better workforce able to meet employers’ demands.
The state is in the midst of an initiative, Complete College Georgia, to increase the number of people with college degrees or credentials by 250,000 by the year 2025. In five years, 60 percent of jobs in the state will require post-secondary education, either a degree or certificate. But only 38 percent of Georgia high school sophomores get that far, according to a recent Atlanta Regional Commission study.
Graduates this spring are helping Georgia meet those goals.
»» Interactive graphic: Which jobs for college graduates are in demand
Commencements and speakers
Clayton State University: Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle; Robert Ashe, chairman of the MARTA board
Georgia Southern University: Carol H. Burrell, president and CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System
Georgia State University: Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Georgia Tech: Mary Rockett Brock, philanthropist and co-owner of the WNBA Atlanta Dream women’s basketball team; U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker
University of North Georgia (Dahlonega campus): Dr. Holly Carpenter Desai, CEO of luxury cosmetics and skincare company HiQ Cosmetics; University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby; state Sen. Butch Miller
Young Harris College: Major League Baseball legend Henry “Hank” Aaron
Emory University: Dr. William Foege, the epidemiologist credited with devising the strategy to eradicate smallpox
Kennesaw State University: Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp; Thomas Currin Dean, Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology; Dr. Belle Wheelan, President, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; state Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth.
Georgia Gwinnett College: Aimee Copeland, Georgia graduate student and amputee who survived flesh-eating bacteria infection
University of Georgia: Media mogul and television personality Ryan Seacrest; Maurice C. Daniels, dean of UGA’s School of Social Work
Agnes Scott College: Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman
Interdenominational Theological Center: Connie Rice, civil rights activist and attorney known for her work in expanding opportunity and advancing multiracial democracy
Mercer University (Atlanta campus): Edward Schutter, president and CEO of Arbor Pharmaceuticals
Morris Brown College: U.S. Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman
Oglethorpe University: Derreck Kayongo, CEO, National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Morehouse College: Strive Masiyiwa, head of ECONET International is one Africa’s most influential businessmen and Zimbabwe’s first billionaire
Spelman College: U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch; Stevie Wonder receives honorary degree
Clark Atlanta University: Retired astronaut Mae Jemison
LaGrange College: Environmentalist Laura Turner Seydel