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Employers expected to hire 13% more new college grads

By , - Last modified: January 11, 2013 at 9:11 AM

The National Association of Colleges and Employers of Bethlehem said employers expect to hire 13 percent more new college graduates this year than they did from 2012.

“If the latter half of 2012 is any indication, I would expect that we would see that same pattern continue in 2013,” said Stephanie Fenstermacher, assistant director of human resources for Computer Aid, an information technology company in Allentown.

“Our business is very much driven by our customers. We did see an increase in 2012.”

The report said more than three-quarters of employers seeking business graduates are looking to hire finance majors, and close to 70 percent will hire accounting majors. The top targets for employers hiring engineering graduates are those earning mechanical or electrical engineering degrees.

Employers also noted they are hiring new college graduates to compensate for an aging workforce, and to establish new college recruiting programs or expand existing ones.

“Definitely we’ve been seeing more IT positions; we’ve been seeing some more accounting,” said Karen Veres, director of career services for Northampton Community College (NCC) in Bethlehem.

“The majority of our graduates do tend to want to remain in the Greater Lehigh Valley.”

NCC has an online job board where many employers post jobs as they become available. Business administration, accounting and computers are among the most prominent industry leaders and it’s a trend that’s expected to continue this year.

Employers that plan to maintain their number of college hires reported steady business conditions and, therefore, no need to change their college hiring numbers, according to the report. An uncertain economy, level budgets, and low turnover were other key factors contributing for these employers holding steady.

“I think employers have held off on hiring any new positions over the past three years,” said Jeffrey S. Stewart, an attorney with Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus in Allentown.

“Companies have shrunk as a result of not replacing people who have left.”

Stewart also is a board member for the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management, a global group that studies a variety of issues facing the human resources industry.

With more certainty coming back to the economy, Stewart feels that employers are now getting back to hiring and that includes new hires at the entry level that are fresh from college.

“I see hiring picking up across all industries,” said Stewart. New graduates are always cheaper for companies to hire, he added.

Key findings in the report:

? Employers in the information sector are reporting plans to increase their new college hiring by 62.4%. Two-thirds of these respondents plan to increase hiring by more than 50%.

? Retail employers are planning a 47% increase overall, and 11 of the 12 respondents plan to increase their number of hires.

? Employers in construction (21.6% increase) and management consulting (16.5% increase) are also projecting hiring increases that exceed 15%.

? In the retail trade sector, employers plan to be active in spring recruiting, with more than 90% of respondents either with firm (64.3%) or tentative (28.6%) plans in place for recruiting this spring.

? Construction and food and beverage manufacturing employers also have strong intentions for spring recruiting with 57.1% and 50% of employers, respectively, with firm plans in place.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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