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Front Page » May 8, 2007 » Local News » Graduates weigh continuing educations, entering labor market
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Graduates weigh continuing educations, entering labor market


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By C.J. MCMANUS
Sun Advocate reporter


College of Eastern Utah students Jeremy Barker, Jessica Juliano and Kenny Davis await commencement remarks from Troy Justesen, deputy United States secretary of education. Barker is a criminal justice major at CEU, while Juliano and Davis are graduating from Carbon High School and the college within the same year.

On May 5, the College of Eastern Utah conducted its 96th annual commencement ceremonies at the Bunnell-Dimitrich Athletic Center on the Price campus.

Remarks were given by co-valedictorians Raymond Smithson and Barbara Strate. The main commencement address came from former Castle Country resident and assistant secretary at the United States Department of Education Troy Justesen.

Justesen was nominated for his current post by President George W. Bush on May 8, 2006. He serves as principal adviser to the secretary of education on departmental matters related to career, technical and adult education, high schools, life long learning and community colleges as well as workforce and economic development.

Justesen was born in Orangeville and graduated from Emery High and CEU before matriculating at Utah State University. At USU, he earned his bachelors and masters degrees in education.

In 2001 Justesen completed his doctorate in higher education at Vanderbilt University.

In September 2000, he came to the education department to work as a policy analyst in the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs. One year later, he was detailed to serve as the deputy executive director of the president's commission on excellence in special education.

The commission subsequently issued recommendations for the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

In 2002, Justesen went on to join the staff of the White House's domestic policy council. He served as the associate director for domestic policy, a post from which he helped implement the president's new freedom initiative to improve the educational opportunities and employment prospects for the nation's 54 million Americans with disabilities.

At the commencement ceremonies, Justesen commented about the opportunities and the unprecedented technological future that lie ahead for the graduates.

CEU students gaining diplomas are now faced with the choice of continuing educations or entering the job market.

For the people choosing to work, the approximately 20,000 new Utah college graduates will be entering one of the best job markets in recent years.

According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, strong job growth, low unemployment and increased recruiting activity combine to offer improved opportunities for all new graduates, especially the individuals with specific skills in demand.

Recent graduate Jeremy Barker of Price commented that he is "planning to stay here and save a little money so I can live a little easier when I go up state."

This is a sentiment felt by many who graduated this year. Additionally some students at Saturday's graduation were simultaneously graduating from CEU and local high schools during the same month due to concurrent enrollment.

For those graduating with four year degrees this year DWS projects that the fields with the most openings for applicants with bachelors degrees are school teachers - both elementary and secondary; accountants and auditors; computer programmers and systems analysts; insurance sales agents and loan officers.

Another DWS study identified employers' hardest to fill jobs as medical lab technicians, industrial engineers, civil engineers and registered nurses.

Utah's current job growth rate of 4.3 percent far out paces the U.S. average of 1.6 percent. DWS reported that the robust job growth coupled with Utah's 3.4 percent unemployment rate is roughly the same as during the strong economy of the late 1990s. This results in more jobs being created and fewer experienced workers looking for jobs.

The conditions favor new graduates.

The DWS report by Lisa Nicholson stipulates that some majors teach specific skills that are easily transferable to the job market, while others provide skills that make employment options less clear.

"Many employers are looking for the soft skills that come with a college degree, such as the ability to meet deadlines, learn new things, get along with coworkers, etc. If you are enthusiastic and can learn quickly, employers my be willing to train you in the more technical aspects of a job," explained Nicholson.

In conclusion Nicholson offers the following advice to new graduates, "to market yourself effectively, you will need to know your skills, use college placement resources and be ready to sell yourself to employers."



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