Daily Archives: April 25, 2012

More Evidence FOR a Bachelor’s Degree in LIS

Last December I wrote the Post Library Science Ranks #4 in Highest Unemployment.

According to the Wall Street Journal post From College Major to Career, “Choosing the right college major can make a big difference in students’ career prospects, in terms of employment and pay. Here’s a look at how various college majors fare in the job market, based on 2010 Census data.” WSJ gleaned the study data from a report by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Click here for the full report.

Some readers took exception to the data because it represented only bachelor’s level degree information relating to librarianship employment. As we all know, those entry level jobs are few and far between. But it all seems irrelevant in light of the latest information published by CNBC – 1 in 2 new graduates are jobless or underemployed.

Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

An analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press lays bare the highly uneven prospects for holders of bachelor’s degrees.

Or does it? While it seems like the current unemployment/underemployment climate makes my advocacy for a bachelor’s degree in librarianship and information science even less appealing, actually it makes it even more appealing. Seriously? Absolutely! Read on.

While there’s strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor’s degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.

Taking underemployment into consideration, the job prospects for bachelor’s degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade.

There is “strong demand in science, education and health fields” – not arts and humanities. Librarianship is a science field. We have need of entry level bachelor’s degree educated individuals who are multi-talented, technology literate, information literate, (dare I say) transliterate, young imaginative, innovative, in-touch librarians who can help change the profession to meet 21st Century challenges.

Be honest, when faced with a choice of science, education or health fields, which would you choose – SCIENCE!!

SLIS are missing the boat by not recruiting these young people into the librarianship profession. Now is the time – well actually, 10 years ago was really the time – to heavily recruit for a bachelor’s degree as an entry level position into the profession. Other disciplines and professions will be doing it. If we don’t get moving, we’ll be left behind – again.

“You can make more money on average if you go to college, but it’s not true for everybody,” says Harvard economist Richard Freeman, noting the growing risk of a debt bubble with total U.S. student loan debt surpassing $1 trillion. “If you’re not sure what you’re going to be doing, it probably bodes well to take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college.”

Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University who analyzed the numbers, said many people with a bachelor’s degree face a double whammy of rising tuition and poor job outcomes. “Simply put, we’re failing kids coming out of college,” he said, emphasizing that when it comes to jobs, a college major can make all the difference. “We’re going to need a lot better job growth and connections to the labor market, otherwise college debt will grow.” [Emphasis added.]

How can any SLIS faculty or administrator read this and not see the opportunity here? We have a MAJOR pool of undergraduate candidates who have been working in the profession and currently are in local libraries EVERYWHERE. They know what they want to do, but the profession is stifling them! Most don’t have a bachelor’s degree, and the prospect of getting a master’s to become a “librarian” is beyond their grasp right now.

If there were abundant bachelor’s degree programs in LIS, these young library workers would have a stepping stone for career progression. This is not rocket science. All it takes is a few “establishment” librarians to think outside the box for just a minute to see the potential. Why isn’t somebody willing to step into the 21st Century?

This Post is not addressed to those SLIS with existing bachelor’s degree programs. Kentucky, Maine, and others are making an effort to address the shortfall, but are getting no support from the “establishment”.


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