Jun 9, 2023 - Economy

The era of AI is upon us, but employers want recent grads to be human

Illustration of a graduation cap against a background with abstract shapes.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Employers are looking for one thing from recent grads that they can’t get from artificial intelligence: humanity.

State of play: The ability to communicate is the No. 1 skill most requested by employers in job postings for new college graduates, according to research by Lightcast.

  • It’s among a host of people skills that employers seek from recent grads, according to Lightcast, which assessed more than 1.3 million job postings for entry-level workers with a bachelor’s degree.
  • “There are certain things that AI can’t do,” Lightcast senior economist Rachel Sederberg tells Axios. “And those are going to be increasingly important.”

By the numbers: 44% of job postings for recent grads require communication skills, while 28% want demonstrated management ability and 27% want customer service experience, Lightcast reports.

The intrigue: For now, there’s little sign of employers seeking AI skills in job postings for new grads, despite companies pursuing AI at a feverish pace, Sederberg says.

  • “It’s still a little early to see that,” she said, but “it is going to be creeping in more and more.”
  • Job descriptions often “take a while to be updated,” she says. Sometimes “the recruiter puts up the same job description year after year.”

Zoom in: Though there are signs of the job market beginning to tighten a bit — jobless claims hit their highest weekly rate since October 2021 on Thursday — recent grads don't have much to fear.

  • “It’s still a very strong market,” Sederberg says. “There’s still a lot of opportunity out there for recent graduates. We still have a massive number of job openings relative to the unemployed.”
  • Health care makes up about 18% of new grad jobs, with positions such a registered nurse particularly in demand.

Although many major employers — like Google and JPMorgan Chase — are demanding workers to come back to the office, about 100,000 job openings for recent grads were fully remote, according to Lightcast.

Be smart: One reason why recent grads are finding so many opportunities is that so many older workers retired during the pandemic.

  • Many of them “aren’t coming back into the labor force,” Sederberg says.

The bottom line: Recent grads have reason to be hopeful about their job prospects despite the advent of AI.

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