America’s skills gap has been widely discussed. The friction between postsecondary institutions failing to properly prepare job seekers and unrealistic employer expectations has led to seven million unfilled openings. Not surprisingly, the challenge worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are still nearly as many unfilled jobs with near-record unemployment in a recession.
When the unemployment rate spiked during the spring of 2020, jobs that required a college degree declined more than those that didn’t, and new college graduates were hit the hardest. Not only did postings for bachelor’s level jobs fall the most, but entry-level jobs also dropped farthest and fastest. Analyzing data from Burning Glass, Wharton professor Matthew Bidwell found a diminishing number of entry-level jobs requiring a degree.
As a result, graduates are now competing against millions of experienced workers who have been sidelined due to the pandemic. And while employers want experience, no one wants to be the first to provide it.