Job outlook for new Hawaii grads brighter than in previous years

Published: Apr. 25, 2016 at 6:10 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 25, 2016 at 7:24 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This summer, thousands of newly-minted college graduates will jump – or dip the toes – into the Hawaii job market, if they haven't already.

How will they fare?

"The prospects actually look very good," said Linda Chu Takayama, director of the state Department and Labor and Industrial Relations.

In fact, Takayama says, Hawaii these days is a job seeker's market.

Low unemployment – at just 3.1 percent in March – and economic growth means that employers are hiring and hungry for talent.

Unlike during the Great Recession and its fallout, job seekers are actually seeing employers compete for them.

"Employers are falling over each other looking for good people," Takayama said. "This is quite a bit of a turnaround (compared to the recession). We're hoping that this is a situation that continues."

That said, new grads shouldn't hold their breath for that dream job right after graduation – and might be disappointed about the prospects of their chosen field.

Plus, recent college graduates still have to grapple with lower pay and fewer benefits. (The average salary of University of Hawaii at Manoa graduates with less than five years experience was $44,000 in 2015, according to PayScale, a compensation analysis firm.)

Takayama said some positions are in particularly high demand in the islands.

Among them: Nurses, teachers (especially, special education and math teachers), accountants, system software developers, and construction and operations managers.

To be sure, some of those positions require experience in addition to a college degree.

But Takayama said the key is getting your foot in the door.

"Just be flexible and be open," she said. "There is not a solid pathway to success. Take your opportunities as they come along."

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