June 20, 2008

Despite Slower Economy, Most Area Grads Finding Work

By Lang, K J

More than 3,000 students from area colleges were recently handed diplomas and are taking their first steps into the career world. And despite the slowing economy, those steps often lead graduates into jobs in their field of study. Area colleges collect information each year from surveys and other sources to see what their graduates go on to do after school.

"It is kind of our bottom line," said Beth Dolder-Zieke, director of career services at Viterbo University. "This is a way to measure our effectiveness."

The slowing of the economy hasn't appeared to have an effect on the number of students finding work, said Tim Tritch, senior student service coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

"Everyone seems to be doing well despite the doom and gloom that you hear about," Dolder-Zieke agreed.

Tritch said the reason might be the relatively strong job markets in the Twin Cities, Madison and Chicago.

Viterbo and UW-L officials both say health care and technology are highly marketable fields both regionally and nationally. Both schools also have a high numbers of students finding jobs in accounting.

At Western Technical College, the job skills most in demand are in health care, welding, mechanical design technology, diesel and heavy equipment technician, HVAC and early childhood education.

Education majors are doing fairly well despite the shortage of education jobs in the Midwest, Dolder-Zieke said. Viterbo had an 86 percent placement of education majors, including substitute teaching, said Dolder-Zieke.

Education graduates do well if they are willing to go to where the job growth is, Tritch said.

UW-L graduates starting yearly salary averaged $36,125, according to their survey. At Western, the average hourly wage was $15.36. Viterbo did not have salary Information.

Copyright La Crosse Tribune May 30, 2008

(c) 2008 La Crosse Tribune. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.