I’m at #GEC12, the graduate employability conference in Leeds, organised by Gradcore. Steven runs the largest graduate job board in the US. He has come to share the best practice from the US, and life in general in Minnesota. Steven founded CollegeRecruiter.Com in 1991 and went live on-line from being magazine based in 1996. CollegeRecruiter now host 100,000+ internships. They have chosen to build the site requiring no registration, and without a CV database. All they want to be is the destination of choice by being very easy to use. There is a lesson in that.

The problem in the US is that the cost of education is rising significantly while the salaries on leaving are declining. The biggest drop out rate is men by far, as a result , men are entering more jobs that don’t require a degree, where as women are going in to jobs requiring a qualification. Martin Edmondson of Gradcore commented that in the UK we are at the beginning of the curve with the cost of tuition. It will be interesting to see if the same patterns emerge here in the UK.

Steven is talking about tuition fees. He feels the cost of education is really a subsidy to the Banks, because the debt can’t be written off, and is guaranteed by the Government. The perception in America is the more expensive the university the better the degree. Contrasted with China, education is free. The state invests in learning. it’s interesting to take this principle and compare the fortunes of the nations.

College recruiting is all about big companies, but the jobs are with the small companies. There is clearly a divide but universities embed big company thinking. It is a situation I’m familiar with here in the UK. Grad recruitment is as much about PR in big business as requirement. University employability depts need to move closer to preparing students for where the jobs are. Employability should be embedded in everything the Universities do. If they sell the dream, and charge for it, they need to deliver it.

Steven sees more of a rise in entrepreneurial student or outliers in the States. They went to University for a year or two but chose to leave and work for themselves. The university environment kick starts this. This will be a real problem for graduate employers because the best talent are not sticking around, because a degree and a job is becoming less viable and attractive.

Steven is talking career sites. No one starts their job search on a career site whatever the research says. The influence started somewhere else. Influence is hard to track, applications are not. This is a common problem for recruiters unless you track the relationship rather than the application. We need to think more about how we track this.

70% of career service time is spent on resume/CV writing with only 27% on help with finding an internship. This is a complete waste of purpose and resource and should be the other way around. Employability should be about helping create this gateway in to work. Career services need to move away from being secretarial services. I think the situation in the UK is not that different.

Steven is proposing a scheme of “loan forgiveness.” This is working in unpaid internships to pay off student debt in good faith. Once you get past the need for expenses, it is an interesting prospect. Steven commented that careers offices measure their success by foot-flow. They should really be measured by how many of their students get jobs. Amen to that!

i want to close on this tweet from the floor at #GEC12. It makes a great point. Steven did a brilliant job telling the US story. Thanks for sharing.

#GEC12 Very struck in remarks by@StevenRothberg lack of structural opps for social mobility in the US; and UK gov is looking to US models?!