GRINGOS — a Term Associated with College Grads

global computer technology conceptThe Brits coined an acronym, “GRINGOS” to mean Graduates in Non-Graduate Occupations. Their concern was that because of the push to have people obtain college degrees, a variety of factors have caused people to complete college degrees and then end up in occupations that do not require that level of education. 

As you read that paragraph, you may have been thinking, well it’s the economy and lack of jobs. There just aren’t sufficient jobs for college grads these days.

The article referenced above suggests that there may be other reasons that college grads are in jobs and occupations requiring less than a college degree.

First, the college grads consider their initial job to be a stepping stone to greater opportunities. This seems reasonable as most of us started our careers at the bottom of the ladder and tried to work our way up to better situations. The upshot is that many do not even try to obtain an educational equivalent job.

Second, everyone is in the same boat. Many do not even try to obtain an education equivalent job. Their peers do not pressure them to find college level jobs.

Third, taking any job allows one to start paying down debt and take stock of their lives, in other words take a breather.

A fourth idea is that we in career services working at all levels from high school through adult, are not providing labor market information to help these individuals decide whether or not they should pursue a college degree for their chosen field and job goals. This is something our professional can do something about.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York in a recent study suggested that employment for recent college grads was higher than those who had been out for a while, (4.3% vice 2.9%).  Underemployment is very different and over the years has remained steady at about 33% while recent college grads underemployment rates have traditionally been higher depending upon the year and the state of the US economy sometimes well over 44% (p.3).

Because college grads are not easily finding jobs requiring a college degree, they are taking lower skilled jobs. These can be ones that are higher quality meaning better pay or those that are lower wage jobs. The Federal Reserve Bank showed that the number of college grads in the good, higher paying jobs has declined, while the number in the lower wage jobs category has risen.

College Grads

The Federal Reserve suggests two potential areas for our consideration:

“It does appear that one’s college major matters: unemployment and underemployment rates differ markedly across majors. In particular, those who choose majors that provide technical training, such as engineering or math and computers, or majors that are geared toward growing parts of the economy, such as education and health, have tended to do relatively well. At the other end of the spectrum, those with majors that provide less technical and more general training, such as leisure and hospitality, communications, the liberal arts, and even the social sciences and business, have not tended to fare particularly well in recent years.”

And further.. “Timely information on the fields in which jobs are available, what different jobs pay, and the career paths new workers can expect over their lifetime would be helpful to the parents and students investing in a college education. One means of generating such information would be for higher education institutions to establish or expand their partnerships with businesses. In this way, colleges and universities could develop a fuller understanding of the relationship between their own curriculum, the needs of employers, and the majors selected by their students.” (p.7)

Yet how many of us, high school counselor or college advisor, present labor market information to our students and clients.

The National Career Development Association’s  Career Counseling Competencies suggest that we are able to demonstrate knowledge of “Education, training, and employment trends; labor market information and resources that provide information about job tasks, functions, salaries, requirements and future outlooks related to broad occupational fields and individual occupations.” I maintain that we go beyond just knowing this information but passing it on to those making s about career choice.

What do you think?

Related resources:

Self-paced online course from, an NBCC approved continuing education provider called “Labor Market Information for Career, Workforce, and Academic Advisor,” “Occupational Information for the Career Advisor,” and Realistic Career Decision Making: It’s More Than Passion.”

O*NET Online


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