2023 College Graduates Have Arrived in the Workforce 

Two women are sitting at a table. While looking at each other, one has her arms open as if too demonstrate distance from one point to another.

Since graduating this spring, the Gen Z class of 2023 is settling into the workforce and developing their new careers in a hot job market, with confidence in their investment in education, and on the other side of a global pandemic that impacted their formative college years. This new generation of workers, known as digital natives who value diversity and are committed to issues important to them, will shape the future of the workplace.  

State of the Labor Market 

Workers ages 16-24 typically have higher unemployment rates than employees over the age of 25, however, the unemployment rate for young adults reached its lowest in 70 years at 7.5% in March 2023, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In this market, employers want to hire new graduates56% of U.S. hiring managers and 47% of Canadian companies plan to this year. Traditional degrees aren’t the only ones in demand. In Canada, 30% of companies are looking to hire career tech and vocational school graduates. 

What Graduates Want at Work  

The 2023 class experienced college during the global COVID-19 pandemic, with virtual classes and online internships being the norm. Now, 48% of graduates are expected to work hybrid schedules, while 42% will work in the office full-time, and 10% remotely, per the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) job outlook survey

A Deloitte survey shows Gen Zers are prioritizing work-life balance and say this is their top consideration when choosing an employer. More than half of survey respondents (57%) say their employers are becoming more serious about mental health.  

Climate change is a concern for Gen Z workers according to the same survey. While 69% of Gen Zers are working to lessen their environmental impact, 53% believe their employers have deprioritized sustainability. Survey respondents indicated they would like to see their employers encourage sustainability through environmental impact education for employees, bans on or reduced use of single-use plastics at work, creating greener office spaces, and more.  

Confidence in College Investment 

According to The Harris Poll, 90% of this year’s spring graduates say college is worth the investment and obtaining a degree is the best way to have a secure future. Employees with college degrees typically out-earn those without, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.  

Not all graduates believe in the value of the college investment though. According to the 2022 Graduate Employability Report, 61% of recent graduates said employers should stop requiring degrees for many jobs. The Burning Glass Institute predicts 1.4 million jobs will not require four-year degrees by 2027, adding to 15.7 million middle-skill positions that typically require degrees, but are shifting toward skills-based hiring instead. Occupations that don’t require formal education often offer great career paths with competitive pay, on-the-job training, and more for individuals not interested in pursuing traditional education paths. 

Knowledge-seekers who desire to experience college life while working toward a profitable career are in luck. NACE’s salary survey ranks starting salaries in top-paying industries for 2023 graduates with bachelor’s degrees: 

  • Chemical (Pharmaceutical) Manufacturing: $73,738 
  • Information: $72,879 
  • Accounting Services: $72,560 
  • Utilities: $71,808 
  • Computer and Electronics Manufacturing: $71,625 

The class of 2023 has a bright future ahead of them. Share your advice for graduates entering the workforce in the comments section below! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *