GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — As many employers continue to struggle to find workers, a new survey shows more companies are turning to our newest college graduates to fill positions.
It's college graduation season in Northeast Wisconsin, a time for people to transition from students to workers.
Jordan Dietsche is a soon-to-be college graduate at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. His educational journey will culminate Thursday night.
“I’m very, very excited," Dietsche said. "I can’t wait to see everyone up on the stage.”
After a career as a professional wrestler, followed by some factory work, Dietsche will graduate from NWTC with a degree in marketing.
"I decided an education was the way to go. Even at the age of 32, I wasn't too old," Dietsche said.
According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, new graduates like Dietsche are in a favorable position right now.
The report shows employers plan to hire 31% more college grads from this year's class than in 2021.
"It comes as no real surprise," said Matt Valiquette, Bay Area Workforce Development Board executive director. "I hear from employers all the time that there's a critical shortage of talent."
Valiquette said the unemployment rate in Northeast Wisconsin is historically low at 3%. At the same time, he said we're seeing a high workforce participation rate at 66%.
"You couple that workforce participation rate with an unprecedented low unemployment rate, where's that talent coming from? So an obvious location to look for talent would be in our colleges and universities," Valiquette said.
It's a trend NWTC is seeing, too.
"There's definitely been a noticeable uptick in some areas: culinary for sure, marketing, a lot in our trades and engineering side there's a consistent need," said Brad Zima, NWTC career adviser.
Those are just some of the high demand driver industries in the area.
Valiquette said health care, advanced manufacturing, construction, information technology and transportation logistics are all in high demand.
The news is a benefit for Dietsche, who currently works as an assistant of NWTC's Strong Start Program and accepted a new role as the school's marketing and student engagement coordinator post-graduation.
"It's my dream situation right now to be able to work at a place I feel has given me a lot back," Dietsche said.
Dietsche is one of nearly 2,000 students across NWTC's three campuses and five regional centers who is a candidate for graduation this year.
The strong labor market is a change from when the pandemic created one of the worst labor markets in recent history.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows only 67% of recent graduates with a bachelor's degree found a job in 2020, compared to 74% in 2021.
The Bay Area Workforce Development Board invests nearly $1 million a year in vocational training. The non-profit is currently offering 100 vocational training scholarships to people interested in furthering their education in high demand-industry sectors.