By: Grace Lyden, Forum News Service
Job placement statistics heralded by the North Dakota State College of Science are impressive.
Earlier this month, officials from the Wahpeton-based two-year college said 24 of its 31 programs saw 100 percent placement for 2013-14 graduates.
Administrators attribute the perfect placement to targeting degree offerings that meet workforce needs.
But 100 percent placement doesn’t mean every graduate is now working in his or her profession. It could mean every graduate is working in a different profession or is continuing school. And students who aren’t seeking employment or can’t be reached aren’t counted.
For example, the occupational therapy assistant program is one of the programs credited with placing 100 percent of its grads in a job. But of the 22 graduates, just 12 have jobs, according to NDSCS data. Three are continuing their education, four are seeking employment at a later date and three didn’t respond to calls and emails.
The welding technology program also reported 100 percent job placement, though only 24 of its 50 are working. The other 26 planned to continue their education.
Just one student graduated from mechanical systems, and because that student planned to continue school, the program posted 100 percent placement.
The final report is based on responses from 508 of 525 graduates.
Shortly before students graduate, employees of the community college visit classrooms with surveys asking students whether they have jobs already.
If a student doesn’t have something set up at that time, the school starts to reach out through calls and emails around July 1, said associate vice president Jane Vangsness Frisch.
That not only allows NDSCS to survey a student’s employment status, but also to provide assistance to students still seeking work, she said.
According to the report, 350 graduates accepted jobs related to their fields and 128 planned to continue their education. Just 13 reported accepting jobs unrelated to the fields they studied in school, and eight were seeking employment without success.
The report said the average annual salary of a 2014 graduate was $36,240.
NDSCS President John Richman said those numbers are a “credit to the campus in recognizing what the workforce needs in North Dakota are and, more importantly, aligning our curriculum to that workforce need.”
Of the 350 students who accepted jobs in their fields, 243 accepted jobs in North Dakota, the report said.
Richman said another report showed that 87 percent of the school’s graduates fall into the state’s four high-demand industries: health care, maintenance and repair, management and STEM.
“We could produce more students, and we could almost guarantee them the career that they’ve worked that degree towards,” he said.
Vangsness Frisch echoed that sentiment, saying many employers come to the NDSCS career fairs and offer jobs to students who still have a year left.
“We constantly get calls from employers,” she said.
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