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Thread: Analysis of job growth vs. degrees granted

  1. #26
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    That's my biggest concern with these types of calculations. With nearly any degree in the liberal arts (at the undergrad or graduate level) you will find folks going into many different fields. I work in the public sector so generally, as far as BLS figures go, even though I may work in a planning department, I am counted in "public administration". This is a rather large municipal government and it's feasible that folks with planning backgrounds work in IT, health, the sheriff's department, public services, and a few other departments besides just the planning department.

    I remember peers from when I was in grad school who had absolutely no plan to go to work at a traditional planning firm. Besides those going into public administration, many had decided to go into real estate/brokerages, non-profits (of every stripe), engineering, data analysis, publishing, etc. I also have a few friends who parlayed their planning education into very successful manufacturing roles using their knowledge of permitting, EPA guidelines, and ability to maneuver around bureaucratic red tape.

    In the end, we must remember that "planning" encompasses so much more than working for a private consultant or as the lone staff planner in some town somewhere. The skills one learns in school (writing, speaking, working as a member of a team, management of priorities, research) are often just as important to an employer as what the course of study was.
    I find that a significant portion of people in my planning program want to go into data analysis. Not many folks seem to want the traditional role of the municipal land-use planner. Which is something that makes me happy as that's what I want for myself.

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    2. The BLS estimates factor in attrition, and a heavy contributor to attrition for them is the filtering out of the baby-boom generation. It's actually pretty well incorporated statistically into their estimates, based on previous but unrelated in-depth research I have done on the DOL.

    3. On buyouts, my guess is that it's pretty rare. That kind of thing doesn't look too well in the public eye ("public workers getting X amount of dollars to go home"), and I think the ridiculous pension problems are concentrated more at the state level than the municipal level. .
    Well as far as 2 goes I think I know what your saying, but my point was the 6,500 is a projected growth in additional positions, but they are not the only ones that will be filled by new grads because some of the existing 40k will be vacated. Hence why it would only take a 6% retirement/exit rate of those positions per year to have positions for each new grad.

    As far as number 3 goes buyouts do seem popular in more conservative states where public workers are looked upon with disdain already.

  3. #28
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    Quote Originally posted by jhenry View post
    Well as far as 2 goes I think I know what your saying, but my point was the 6,500 is a projected growth in additional positions, but they are not the only ones that will be filled by new grads because some of the existing 40k will be vacated. Hence why it would only take a 6% retirement/exit rate of those positions per year to have positions for each new grad.

    As far as number 3 goes buyouts do seem popular in more conservative states where public workers are looked upon with disdain already.
    What's the current rate for planning and what's the average nation-wide for all jobs?

  4. #29
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    That's my biggest concern with these types of calculations. With nearly any degree in the liberal arts (at the undergrad or graduate level) you will find folks going into many different fields. I work in the public sector so generally, as far as BLS figures go, even though I may work in a planning department, I am counted in "public administration". This is a rather large municipal government and it's feasible that folks with planning backgrounds work in IT, health, the sheriff's department, public services, and a few other departments besides just the planning department.

    I remember peers from when I was in grad school who had absolutely no plan to go to work at a traditional planning firm. Besides those going into public administration, many had decided to go into real estate/brokerages, non-profits (of every stripe), engineering, data analysis, publishing, etc. I also have a few friends who parlayed their planning education into very successful manufacturing roles using their knowledge of permitting, EPA guidelines, and ability to maneuver around bureaucratic red tape.

    In the end, we must remember that "planning" encompasses so much more than working for a private consultant or as the lone staff planner in some town somewhere. The skills one learns in school (writing, speaking, working as a member of a team, management of priorities, research) are often just as important to an employer as what the course of study was.
    Exactly. And a person with a dual degree, say planning and engineering, may be BLS listed as an engineer...but she is also a number as going to planning school.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally posted by ddomin4360 View post
    What's the current rate for planning and what's the average nation-wide for all jobs?
    I found this info surprisingly hard to find. I did find one BLS table though that seemed to imply that there would be 16,800 Planner jobs to be filled due to growth and replacement over the 2010-2020 cycle. So less than ChocolateChip's projected 25k students, but this would be only for those working as planners after receiving their degree.

  6. #31
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    So I went through the ACSP numbers as well and got roughly 2,884 degrees being issued annually by US universities to student across all levels (undergrad, masters, and PhD) so I find Chocolate Chips 25,308 number over 10 years to be quite possible.

    A couple of things I noticed were:
    -Most programs are only issuing less than 30 degrees per year
    -The only university issuing more than 100 degrees per year was USC
    -California makes up a large portion of degrees offered (7 of 73 programs for 489 of the 2884 degrees or 17% of all planner degrees),

  7. #32
    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    Exactly. And a person with a dual degree, say planning and engineering, may be BLS listed as an engineer...but she is also a number as going to planning school.
    Do we find planner-degree people in other fields because they wanted to go into another field all along? Or do we find them in other fields because they couldn't find a job as a planner? I think it is more logical that the latter is true of most graduates. And, well wouldn't you know, that's exactly what the numbers support.
    Last edited by chocolatechip; 12 Jul 2012 at 8:16 PM.

  8. #33
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    My planning class included people who went into public administration, real estate, political consulting, economic development, transportation management and many other types of jobs. These are probably not captured in the estimate for the numbers of planners.
    My experience was quite different. In my grad program I'd say 90% of the students pursued planning jobs either in the public or private sector.

    When you factor in how many graduates with non-planning degrees end up competing for planning jobs, I'd be willing to bet this more than balances out in terms of planning grads moving to other fields vs. non-planning grads competing for planning jobs.

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Or do we find them in other fields because they couldn't find a job as a planner? I think it is more logical that the latter is true of most graduates. And, well wouldn't you know, that's exactly what the numbers support.
    Too few choices there. You need to add: 'had enough', 'spouse moved and this is what I found', etc.
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  10. #35
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    My experience was quite different. In my grad program I'd say 90% of the students pursued planning jobs either in the public or private sector.

    When you factor in how many graduates with non-planning degrees end up competing for planning jobs, I'd be willing to bet this more than balances out in terms of planning grads moving to other fields vs. non-planning grads competing for planning jobs.
    I find it interesting that collectively, posters to these threads seem to think that going into economic development or community development means leaving the planning field.

  11. #36
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    I find it interesting that collectively, posters to these threads seem to think that going into economic development or community development means leaving the planning field.
    But that wouldn't further the narrative of the planning field dying. It isn't that we are changing or growing, it is that "traditional" planning is dead.
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  12. #37
    I find it interesting that collectively, posters to these threads seem to think that going into economic development or community development means leaving the planning field.
    As far as economic/community development, many of those jobs are a subset of planning, and are, to a degree, captured in the BLS figures. Also, many of the programs reviewed by the ACSP have specializations in these areas and so they are also captured, to a degree, in the estimated number of new planners, although I did not include programs where the only major was, for example, historic preservation, etc. Of course, this would under-estimate those competing for planning jobs, because the BLS numbers include a lot of those people in "Urban Planners."

    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    But that wouldn't further the narrative of the planning field dying. It isn't that we are changing or growing, it is that "traditional" planning is dead.
    Again, you bring up what you think I'm trying to say, my perspective, even if you agree with the basic facts. It's very off-topic, but I don't think I have ever claimed that the planning profession was dead. Rather, I emphasized that the generalist planner has less and less relevance, and that specialization will dominate the planning world and that eventually, most of who we'd call planners today won't be called planners in the future. And, actually, that's what everyone else is now saying, so that's become a generally acceptable consensus on these boards. Yet you still think I'm trying to push a "narrative", as if I'm like Limbaugh, spouting angry proclamations to any that will hear. Well, I'm not Limbaugh, I don't have a "narrative" I'm trying to push like I'm trying to re-write history books, and like I've said before, the numbers speak for themselves.

    Planning will continue to, and increasingly be, a very competitive field to get into, despite attrition, despite economic recovery, despite population growth projections, despite the rise of cities, despite the supposed "need" for planners. What we're seeing is a major cultural shift, where some professions are morphing into others. And the numbers that I analyzed are a product of that.

    How did hundreds of universities get to the point where they are producing tens of thousands of unhireable planners? I think it's because of two things, and represented by two different types of planning schools: 1. The Old School, or programs that started in the 1950s-1970s. What we see here is an increasing emphasis put on the environment, a cultural undercurrent toward socialism, and the beginning of suburbanization. So planners were needed, and they fit into that system. 2. Then there are the Copy-Cat Schools, the ones that start pumping out truck loads of planners starting in the 1990s because of the temporary demand of the housing boom. Both of these types of schools are tied to a quickly fading paradigm. The New Economy has no place for the types of planners produced by these schools. But, as shown in the numbers, they are still producing them en-masse. And that's going to be a problem.

    Hopefully, every one of these schools has professors who understand what's happening in the real world and have the guts to affect change toward a more relevant department and curriculum. Limiting entry into, and slimming down, their programs might be a first step toward this... but I highly doubt many of them will choose to do so.

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    The New Economy has no place for the types of planners produced by these schools. But, as shown in the numbers, they are still producing them en-masse. And that's going to be a problem.
    What do you suggest a "New Economy" planner be taught? As far as I'm concerned, the planners being produced now do have a satisfactory skill set; it's just an issue of volume that's making it so hard to find jobs.

  14. #39
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    How did hundreds of universities get to the point where they are producing tens of thousands of unhireable planners? I think it's because of two things, and represented by two different types of planning schools: 1. The Old School, or programs that started in the 1950s-1970s. What we see here is an increasing emphasis put on the environment, a cultural undercurrent toward socialism, and the beginning of suburbanization. So planners were needed, and they fit into that system. 2. Then there are the Copy-Cat Schools, the ones that start pumping out truck loads of planners starting in the 1990s because of the temporary demand of the housing boom. Both of these types of schools are tied to a quickly fading paradigm. The New Economy has no place for the types of planners produced by these schools. But, as shown in the numbers, they are still producing them en-masse. And that's going to be a problem.

    Hopefully, every one of these schools has professors who understand what's happening in the real world and have the guts to affect change toward a more relevant department and curriculum. Limiting entry into, and slimming down, their programs might be a first step toward this... but I highly doubt many of them will choose to do so.

    CC, you had me till the last two paragraphs. You have it dead wrong with the production of "unhireable planners." Not everyone in planning school has the intention of landing a generalist Planner I gig with a city. My grad program attracted several discernable groups with interests ranging from: the environment, transit, international development and the Peace Corps, growth management and land use, and design. Of the groups mentioned, it was usually only the one pursuing growth management that knew they wanted to work for a city. Others wanted to work internationally with an NGO or DOT and so on. Yet we all received a MSP that would have been counted toward the BLS numbers. This paradigm shift you speak of is further progressed than you may think.

    My views of the problem are those choosing to pursue a masters in planning but haven't done their homework about their desired career or the realities of the job market.

  15. #40
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    How did hundreds of universities get to the point where they are producing tens of thousands of unhireable planners? I think it's because of two things, and represented by two different types of planning schools: 1. The Old School, or programs that started in the 1950s-1970s. What we see here is an increasing emphasis put on the environment, a cultural undercurrent toward socialism, and the beginning of suburbanization. So planners were needed, and they fit into that system. 2. Then there are the Copy-Cat Schools, the ones that start pumping out truck loads of planners starting in the 1990s because of the temporary demand of the housing boom. Both of these types of schools are tied to a quickly fading paradigm. The New Economy has no place for the types of planners produced by these schools. But, as shown in the numbers, they are still producing them en-masse. And that's going to be a problem.
    I love it, you throw "The New Economy" out there, but you really have no clue what that means for the future of the planning profession. Neither do I, but I do know that U.S. population growth is projected to grow by 22% over the next fifteen years, outpacing every other industrialized nation. There will be 93 million more people living here by 2050, with only India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Tanzania seeing more of an increase in raw numbers. There will be MAJOR land use, transportation, and environmental challenges in dealing with this kind of growth. Maybe you trust the engineers, lawyers, and architects to figure it all out. I, for one, do not.

    The economy will turn around. Communities will still need planners. Maybe just not as many as we're producing, but quit with the hyperbole about "The New Economy".

    Population growth estimates:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/howard...b_1245202.html

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I love it, you throw "The New Economy" out there, but you really have no clue what that means for the future of the planning profession. Neither do I, but I do know that U.S. population growth is projected to grow by 22% over the next fifteen years, outpacing every other industrialized nation. There will be 93 million more people living here by 2050, with only India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Tanzania seeing more of an increase in raw numbers. There will be MAJOR land use, transportation, and environmental challenges in dealing with this kind of growth. Maybe you trust the engineers, lawyers, and architects to figure it all out. I, for one, do not.

    The economy will turn around. Communities will still need planners. Maybe just not as many as we're producing, but quit with the hyperbole about "The New Economy".

    Population growth estimates:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/howard...b_1245202.html
    Oh stop it with your numbers and positive thought process. That is so cute. We are all screwed.
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  17. #42
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I love it, you throw "The New Economy" out there, but you really have no clue what that means for the future of the planning profession. Neither do I, but I do know that U.S. population growth is projected to grow by 22% over the next fifteen years, outpacing every other industrialized nation. There will be 93 million more people living here by 2050, with only India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Tanzania seeing more of an increase in raw numbers. There will be MAJOR land use, transportation, and environmental challenges in dealing with this kind of growth. Maybe you trust the engineers, lawyers, and architects to figure it all out. I, for one, do not.

    The economy will turn around. Communities will still need planners. Maybe just not as many as we're producing, but quit with the hyperbole about "The New Economy".
    What's wrong with hyperbole about the New Economy? It's not like I just made it up. (http://www.planetizen.com/node/54838 ; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richar...b_1608363.html).

    Also, what's wrong about opening up a dialogue about how planners should be educated in the future? What's so unhealthy and negative about that?

    But if you only want to answer one question, answer me this: If there's nothing wrong with how many planners are being produced and how they are educated, why are there not enough jobs now and projected for them in the future?

  18. #43
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    I am going to chuck most of these projections out the window. No one knows how many doctors or lawyers or plumbers we will need 10,20,30 years down the road, just as we never know how many shoelaces, razors, or cups of Victory Gin will ever be enough. There is not some centralized hierarchial ministry that dictates the right supply. Our profession is roughly 30,000-50,000 and our profession still operates at the local level. If you want to know what the demand for planners is, do a bunch of informational interviewing with practicing planners before signing up for a program. Chucking around some reports isn't going to solve anything. Too many people take the easy way out read up ABOUT the planning profession without even TALKING TO A PLANNER FIRST.
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  19. #44
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    The economy will turn around. Communities will still need planners. Maybe just not as many as we're producing, but quit with the hyperbole about "The New Economy".
    "New Economy" or "New Normal" is completely accurate. Changes are upon us. Resources are getting scarce and countries & corporations have been snapping up land across the globe in anticipation of shortages. Wealth is being concentrated in the hands of the few with no opposition. Climate is changing before our eyes, requiring too-large % of GDP-GNP to adapt and mitigate - and just wait for the migrations of poor people to xenophobic countries like the US when the rain fails.

    That is: resuming a return to status quo because that is what people do - without examining evidence - is a suboptimal way to plan. Jus' sayin'. Presuming that a luxury good like the regular planning like we all did up to several years ago with less and less money going to luxury goods is a risky way to plan your personal future. Maybe we can learn Chinese and go over there and bite your lip under our face mask.

    Yes, intensive planning is a luxury good. Infrastructure planning will not be, but plan review to make sure the developer has their two trees and four shrubs and 15' setback and .4 FAR in a country in economic and social decline will be. Unless something happens and magically we lock up all the bankers and current pols and throw away this dysfunctional political economy. Come now.

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  20. #45
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Having hired and having worked with many planners over the last 25 years, I have to say that some of the best came from an educational background outside of planning. Some did not have college degrees in the first place, and some of these have been among the best planners I have known. This does suggest that there can be changes to planning education to improve the quality of new entrants to the field. It also corroborates what others have said, that if you include all of the geography, public administration, environmental science, and other majors who will pursue a career in planning, the number of candidates is much larger than when you only consider those graduating from an accredited planning program.

    I think it is useful to look at the potential number of job openings in the future. I do think this is possible. It is no different than when we do population projections for an area. We may get it right or we may be blindsided by events beyond our control. A few years ago the prospects for planning looked pretty good when I could not find a qualified candidate for a senior planner job I wanted to fill. If I were to advertise that job today I would have a hundred appliants. That job no longer exists. Could we have guessed that in 2007? The current political environment is not favorable for government in general, and certainly not for planning. Maybe that will continue or maybe the winds will change.

    The point I made earlier is that I would not tell anyone not to pursue an education for a field they desire, simply because it may look like there are not many jobs. Remember the episode of the Simpsons where Lisa is in a toy shop building a doll?

    Employee: What outfit do you want for your doll?
    Lisa: Doctor!
    Employee: Okay, nurse it is.
    Lisa: Professor!
    Employee: Kindergarten teacher.
    Lisa: Chef!
    Employee: Lunchlady.
    Lisa: CEO!
    Employee: Secretary to a CEO.
    Lisa: You know, it's a boy dolphin.
    Employee: Ohhh, here you go... doctor.

    Does anybody here really want to be that employee? Maybe they will finish their degree and maybe they won't. Maybe they will stay in planning and maybe they will change majors to another field. Maybe they will graduate a and find a planning job and maybe they won't. As I said before, so what? Nobody is guaranteed everything they want. Few will get it if they don't pursue it. Don't tell people not to follow their dreams.
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  21. #46
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Few will get it if they don't pursue it. Don't tell people not to follow their dreams.
    Cardinal, I honestly appreciate and agree with what your saying.The thing is, for me, and a lot of others, going to school for a certain degree doesn't constitute a "dream." I chose planning because it was more practical than architecture (or so I thought), and wouldn't take me as long to finish as engineering (for which I needed to make up a lot of math I missed out on during secondary education because I was lazily home-schooled). For a lot of students like I was (first gen college student, out of school for 6 years before pursuing higher education, married, strapped for cash, etc.), a degree is not really a dream. It's a means to better your position in life. So I don't think you can assume that everyone contemplating planning is doing so because it's their dream. I'd bet that more people are interested in the nuts and bolts practicality of the profession, especially in the New Economy (oops! I said it!).

    So that is my perspective. Which is different, I guess, than for someone who has the luxury of thinking in terms of dreams, especially now. (Incidentally, it was enough of a dream for me to actually go to college in the first place.) But what I thought of as a practical choice (almost entirely fueled by housing bubble growth) is now shown to be most unfortunately not, and I don't think it's going to get any better for future planner graduates.
    Last edited by chocolatechip; 14 Jul 2012 at 2:49 PM.

  22. #47
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    What's wrong with hyperbole about the New Economy? It's not like I just made it up. (http://www.planetizen.com/node/54838 ; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richar...b_1608363.html).
    Well, you stated: "the New Economy has no place for the type of planners produced by these schools". So you're suggesting that there are such endemic flaws with the status quo in planning education to the extent that today's planners are useless in "The New Economy" (whatever this means- are Richard Florida's books gospel now)? This is complete hyperbole.

    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    But if you only want to answer one question, answer me this: If there's nothing wrong with how many planners are being produced and how they are educated, why are there not enough jobs now and projected for them in the future?
    The fact that there aren't enough planning jobs to go around right now is a product of The Great Recession. We could say the same thing for a number of other fields (look at the legal profession, for example). I'm not ready to assign too much of the blame pie to the planning schools when the primary culprit is economic forces beyond their control.

    You want to blame the planning schools? Fine. Then please tell us what's wrong with the PAB accreditation criteria and how out of touch they are with the educational demands of "The New Economy". Your broad generalizations about the "old-school" socialist-leaning programs and the modern "housing-bubble oriented" programs are misinformed and won't cut it...

  23. #48
    Maybe this should go in another thread, but I'd be interested in what topics planning education doesn't cover but should and which it now includes and should be deleted.

  24. #49
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    There is no consistency in planning education. We are not a licensed profession, and we do not have title/practice acts that bar other professionals from doing planning and calling themselves planners. Licensed professions (architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, interior design, surveying, etc.) are more or less streamlined. The goal of these programs is to produce entry-level workers capable of passing a licensing exam. That is why you see very few people with a PhD in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, etc. On the other hand planning academia has a huge research component that has little to nothing to do with career preparation. In many schools, who shall remain nameless, the planning program focuses far more on research/academia and does little to nothing to prepare students to DO planning. As many have said we have a very porous profession so it is much harder to judge the health of the profession.
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  25. #50
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    So that is my perspective. Which is different, I guess, than for someone who has the luxury of thinking in terms of dreams, especially now. (Incidentally, it was enough of a dream for me to actually go to college in the first place.) But what I thought of as a practical choice (almost entirely fueled by housing bubble growth) is now shown to be most unfortunately not, and I don't think it's going to get any better for future planner graduates.
    Not long after the start of the recession, I had the opportunity to do some work with a non-profit community group. Part of their program was teaching people skills so that they would have abetter chance to find employment. Those skills? Construction. Well OK, maybe in 2005 that seemed like a good idea. Looking back, at least they were getting some training, though. They were still better off than those people who had nothing. And when it comes down to it, getting training or getting a degree is no guarantee of a job. Every college student thinks it is, but a degree is only education and not a job offer. Do colleges sell it as one? You seem to believe that is the case; that there is a promise made of a job after graduation. I am not sure I believe that, and I have relationships with several programs where I have been a guest lecturer or merely participate in department events. These departments seek out people like myself to give their students the opportunity to talk with practicing planners who do share their experiences regarding employment and prospects for work after graduation.
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