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It's Not Liberal Arts And Literature Majors Who Are Most Underemployed

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Help wanted signs hang below menus at a restaurant in the Newport section of Jersey City, N.J., Wednesday, May 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Burning Glass and Strada Institute for the Future of Work (formerly USA Funds, one of the nation’s largest student loan guarantors), recently published The Permanent Detour – Underemployment’s Long-Term Effects on the Careers of College Grads.

The report found that a high percentage of college graduates (43%) were underemployed – initially taking jobs that did not require a college degree – a condition that’s likely to persist.

Although there are some serious methodology errors with those conclusions, The Permanent Detour also segregated college majors by their rates of underemployment. The report found that those who graduated with majors in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) were the least likely to experience underemployment.

“STEM majors are the least likely to face this problem. Only 30% of engineering and computer science majors are underemployed in their first job after graduation…” the report said. STEM fields such as engineering and computer sciences had the lowest rates of initial underemployment – 30% and 29% respectively.

Those findings mirror a national consensus that STEM jobs are in-demand and the best path to good, post-college careers – a narrative echoed by Burning Glass. Generally, there’s no reason to disagree with the premise or the findings that STEM graduates do well at finding appropriate jobs.

And it’s easy to become distracted by the share of underemployed graduates Burning Glass ascribed to each major. That, for example, of the 21 majors reported, “Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting and Related Protective Services” had an abysmal 65% underemployment rate. Or that “Parks, Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies” posted a cringe-worthy 63%.

But what’s more interesting is not the percentages of underemployed graduates in these fields of study. The raw numbers of students impacted tell a different story.

The Permanent Detour report conveniently lists the number of degrees awarded in 2016, along with their reported underemployment rates, in each of the 21 majors it tracks. So, even though the “Parks, Recreation” majors fared quite poorly as a percentage, those academic tracks marooned just 28,474 graduates on the shores of underemployment because only 60,583 of those degrees were awarded in 2016. The total number of underemployed Parks and Rec graduates places it not among the worst majors, but just mediocre, at 11th of 21.

When you do the math on the supposed underemployment number against the number of degrees awarded by major, “Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services” left far more people high and dry on job success. With a 47% underemployment rate according to Burning Glass, and a massive 601,092 degrees passed out in 2016, business and related majors produced a staggering 186,339 people with a degree and no corresponding college-level job.

“Health Professions and Related Programs” majors were second worst, leaving 154,915 with degrees but without good jobs, according to the report. Education and Psychology were third and fourth with 99,597 and 61,647 graduates without good jobs respectively.

The “Health Professions” data is head-scratching since we know that in 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted, “Healthcare support occupations and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations are projected to be the two fastest-growing occupational groups, adding a combined 2.3 million jobs, about 1 in 4 new jobs” by 2024.

Nonetheless, if you believe the Burning Glass data, those four majors alone – business, health professionals, education, and psychology – put more than half a million people in the underemployed camp in a single year. And given that the 21 selected majors in the Burning Glass report totaled 904,000 underemployed graduates, just those four majors accounted for more than half (56%) of the underemployed in the study.

It’s also interesting that although it’s a popular target of those who insist that a college education should connect to a good job, majors in “Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies, and Humanities” left a scant 18,824 underemployed grads in 2016. “English Language and Literature/Letters” had just 16,422 underemployed. And the major with the fewest underemployed graduates, according to the report, was “Foreign Languages, Literature, and Linguistics.”

In other words, for every cliché of a barista or bartender with a liberal arts degree, there were ten with a degree in business.

It may be true that if you’re chasing a nice college-level job, studying STEM subjects is among the safest bets. But from a policy perspective, considering the actual and subsidized costs of college, colleges that churn out degrees in business and health professions may be a serious problem – pumping hundreds of thousands of underemployed graduates into the economy every year.

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Construction of Place des Arts to begin Oct. 23

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Construction of the $30 million Place des Arts will begin Oct. 23 in downtown Sudbury, the group said in an announcement Monday.

The project received its building permit from the city, meaning construction can begin.

“Since the end of the summer, our architects and the entire Place des Arts team have been working closely with the City of Sudbury’s Building Services Division to obtain our building permit,” Stéphane Gauthier, president of the Place des Arts, is quoted as saying in a news release. “It was a race against the clock to get work started on the site before soil freeze-up. So, this is an excellent news for us.”

The venue is expected to host more than 800 events in its first year, and will not only be used francophone organizations, but will be available to other performers and organizations in the city, regardless of their language or culture.

The 60,000 square foot building will include a bar and restaurant area with a capacity of 100 people ideal for performances by local artists, a smaller “black box” theatre with 150 seats and a larger theatre with 300 seats.

There will also be shops for creating theatre costumes and props, artists' studios, administrative space and perhaps even a francophone daycare. Construction is expected to last until 2020.

Local firm Bélanger Construction was selected to lead the first phase of construction, the release said, and work will begin Oct. 23. The parking lot located between Larch and Elgin streets and Medina Lane will become a permanent construction site on that day.

“The city is working to inform users of the parking lot that it will be closed in a week from now,” Gauthier said in the release. “Our team got a head start during the summer with an information campaign for downtown store and business owners. Nearby businesses have all had the opportunity to learn more about the project’s schedule and the nature of the work that was imminent. Now, the next step is shovels in the ground.” 

The federal government has provided $12.5 million, the province $8.25 million, the city $5 million, with fundraising by the group expected to cover the remainder. Greater Sudbury is also expected to provide at least $200,000 a year in operating funds.

The first phase of the work will be to prepare the ground for construction. This will require excavating contaminated soil and backfilling with reinforced and engineered soils. The second phase will be the actual construction of the building, beginning as soon as possible in early spring and continuing in 2020.

Place des Arts will be Northern Ontario’s first multidisciplinary arts and culture centre, the release said. It will be home to eight cultural organizations and is expected to host 850 events in its first year and generate 50,000 admissions. The estimated economic effects of construction are $18.7 million, with the creation of 180 jobs.

When complete, Place des Arts will house Carrefour francophone de Sudbury, Centre franco-ontarien de folklore, Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario, La Nuit sur l'étang, Éditions Prise de parole, Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario, Salon du livre du Grand Sudbury and Laurentian University's francophone theatre arts program.

The facility is the first of the big projects supported by city council this term to begin construction. The Kingsway Entertainment District – a new $100 million arena, $60 million casino and hotel – is mired in a legal fight at the province's Local Planning Appeals Tribunal, with a first hearing set for Nov. 6. 

The Junction – which includes a new art gallery, library and convention centre – is to be built on the site of the former arena. However, city council has yet to formally commit to building the roughly $100 million project.

It will be something for the incoming city council to decide after the Oct. 22 municipal election.

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Highland Arts Theatre in Sydney gets $40000 from province

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SYDNEY, N.S. — Artistic director Wesley Colford has been vocal in his call for more public funding for the arts, specifically for his own Highland Arts Theatre.

Wesley Colford

That message may be starting to get across to government, as it was announced Monday that the theatre has received $40,000 through the province’s Summer Theatre Festival Expansion Program.

That came on the heels of an earlier $25,000 culture innovation grant it received toward a summer student program.

While the money was publicly announced Monday, it was received earlier and supported busy summer programming at the theatre, located on Bentinck Street in downtown Sydney.

“This is the reason why we were able to put forward an enormous offering this summer, it was basically a supplement for our summer festival and because of that we were able to do four of our greatest hits but also four of our most expensive shows all summer for the public, which was a tremendous smash and we’re so grateful for that,” Colford said in an interview.


Provincial grants announced Monday:

Under the Building Vibrant Communities Grant Fund

  • Cape Breton Business Partnership: $50,000 – Addressing Barriers to Successful Entrepreneurship for Indigenous Women in Cape Breton
  • The Educational Program Innovations Charity Society: $17,720 – Youth Employability Workshop Enhancement
  • The Cape Breton Affordable Housing Renovation Partnership: $5,000 – renovation and repair pilot project
  • The Inverness County Centre for the Arts: $2,350 – Envisioning the Creative Future

Under the Summer Theatre Festival Expansion Program

  • Highland Arts Theatre: $40,000 – Summer Theatre Festival Expansion Program

The Highland Arts Theatre is now the second-largest theatre in the province, behind Neptune in Halifax. It received 94 per cent of its $700,000 revenue in 2017 from ticket sales.

It’s been an important year for the HAT and other arts organizations in the strides that they have made in their advocacy for funding support, Colford said, although there is a long way to go.

“Hopefully it bodes very well for future development as we continue to develop that relationship,” Colford said.

The money for HAT was among a hodgepodge of provincial grants totalling more than $100,000 announced by Derek Mombourquette, Sydney Whitney-Pier Liberal MLA and Minister of Energy and Mines.

The grants ranged from a low of $2,350 for the Inverness County Centre for the Arts toward a pilot project called Envisioning the Creative Future to $50,000 for the Cape Breton Business Partnership for a pilot project addressing barriers to successful entrepreneurship for Indigenous women in Cape Breton.

Related:

• The Highland Arts Theatre celebrating fifth summer of live theatre with 'Best of' series

• KEN CHISHOLM: Scary times on Cape Breton stages

Mombourquette said many of the projects supported by the grants involve trying to tackle poverty in the community. They include a project to addressing barriers to entrepreneurship facing Indigenous women to enhancing a youth employability workshop pilot.

The MLA said it’s important that community groups know that the grants are available and that they are able to apply for them.

He said the HAT has also developed into an important anchor for downtown Sydney and a driver for the creative economy in the downtown.

nancy.king@cbpost.com

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Chance The Rapper goes undercover to raise money for arts

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CHICAGO — Chance the Rapper is so serious about raising money for arts education programs in Chicago that he took a second job as a Lyft driver to spread the word.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Chicago-born Grammy-winning hip-hop artist who has given millions of dollars to Chicago Public Schools recently went undercover as a driver for the rideshare service to make a video that encourages riders to donate to the city’s public schools arts programs.

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The video shows Chance wearing shades and a maroon hat telling riders his name is John. Then he reveals his true identity and encourages riders to use the Lyft app’s feature called Round Up and Donate that allows users to support his charity, The New Chance Fund, or others of their choice.

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