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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Ariz. has new jobs for first time in four years

Arizona is once again in the green after four consecutive years of dwindling employment numbers.

Total nonfarming employment increased by 37,500 jobs in 2011, according to a Jan. 19 Arizona Department of Administration Workforce Employment Report. The largest employment gains were in the education and health services sector. In addition, there were substantial employment increases in leisure and hospitality, financial activities, construction and the professional business services sectors. The number of government employees, and the arts, entertainment and recreation sector were two areas that saw little to no growth.

Eileen McGarry, director for UA Career Services, said the university is seeing indicators of economic recovery that mirror the report’s results. She said Career Services currently has 80 employers scheduled to interview students on campus this semester alone, about a 20-percent increase over last year.

“Since 2007, like many campuses, we had a significant drop-off in employers coming to the university,” she said. “We have had to work real aggressively to rebuild some relationships and are working with new employers. We are starting to see results.”

McGarry said Career Services has expanded its pursuit of potential employers from out of state. She said Career Services also recently hired a full-time employee to work with recruiters in the Phoenix metro area.

Brionna Rogers, a political science senior, is one of four student ambassadors Career Services hired in the fall to hunt down potential employers in new and emerging industries.

“We look into what is new in the market in terms of technology, nonprofits, etc. and we try to convince these companies to hire recent and current graduates,” she said. “We are trying to be innovative. I’ve been told several times by employers they have never heard of a university that sends students to do outreach and they are impressed.”

Despite, 2011’s positive numbers, experts warn that the job market is still as competitive as ever.

“We have to get away from the idea that a university degree guarantees one’s financial security,” said James McBrearty, an associate professor of economics. “A university degree can be a ticket for the good life, but you have to have marketable skills that employers want.”

McGarry said students should start working early, their freshman year if possible, on building practical work experience regardless of their area of focus. “Our philosophy is to focus on individual students and their unique skill sets, values, interests and work from there,” she said.

She added that students should take employment numbers and forecasts with a grain of salt. Just because a certain market sector is down now, she said, does not mean that will be the case four or five years down the road.

“When the Web industry tanked in the early 2000s, there was a drop in students pursuing a degree in computer sciences,” she said. “Now we are seeing a shortage of people with the skills to work in that area.”

She used Geico as an example of a growing company and an engaged recruiter that is looking for students with a broad skill set.

“A lot of recruiters are looking at the overall package instead of focusing specifically on a student’s major,” she said. “About 25 percent of recruiters that come through and interview say they are looking at liberal arts majors and other non-technical disciplines for positions outside of their major.”

McGarry said Career Services has seen an increase in the number of students seeking help and looking into potential internships. For students who graduate and find themselves unemployed, Career Services offers counseling and assistance up to six months after graduation.

“Start early,” she said. “I know a lot of times, freshman year is one of adjusting, but those students who are on top of their game stand out even more so now.”

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