Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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College Grads Enhance Prospects by Learning Additional Skills

Welcome to March Madness – sixty-eight college basketball teams vying for a national championship. March Madness also refers to the period when many soon-to-be college graduates are returning from spring break.

After four years of classes, tests, lab reports, student-organization meetings, homecoming events and papers, the time has come to enter the working world. Getting that first job can be scary. The fear of the unknown can be daunting for even the most seasoned job seeker. For the first timer, it can be downright paralyzing.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 2016 is supposed to be a great year for new graduates. NACE anticipates that the labor market will be up 11 percent from 2015, offering the best labor market for new graduates in years.

However, the employment landscape is changing, forcing graduates to change with it.

According to the employment-trend experts at the Boston firm Burning Glass, more and more jobs will not only require a degree, but also additional credentialing focused on a number of skills, including information technology, sales, graphic design, computer coding and programming, and assessment.

These skills can enhance not only your job prospects, but also your earning potential. For example, according to Burning Glass, a student coming out of college this year with a liberal arts degree will find nearly 1 million job opportunities tailored to his or her degree.

Add one certification and the job prospects nearly double to 1.8 million anticipated openings.

It does not stop there. Students who achieve specialized badges and certifications in areas such as coding and programming can boost their earnings up to 27 percent over just having a degree alone.

Many of these credentials can be acquired through a number of sources. LinkedIn is now offering certificates and training and many companies such as Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco are offering their employees access to certification bundles to boost productivity and support their growing need for credentialed staff.

Higher education is also getting into the certification game. For example, the University of Central Florida offers programs such as Web Development Boot Camp, which teaches students how to develop and maintain websites using Javascript, HTML, CSS and other coding languages in just 24 weeks.

This certification can have a tremendous boost for students looking for that great job.

It used to be that just getting a degree was enough. But today’s labor market demands that students commit to being lifelong learners. That will mean that from time to time employees will need to return to the classroom to learn the skills needed to stay valuable to their companies. Certifications can also lead to new opportunities and expand horizons by allowing graduates to juggle multiple offers as their skill portfolio expands.

Your skill portfolio can be made up of a great combination of a college degree and the various certifications necessary to land any job and make yourself an invaluable asset to your company and yourself.

Michael Preston is executive director of the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities based at UCF. He can be reached at michael.preston@ucf.edu.

Images added by the Observer: College Career Life

This piece was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license.

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