Job market strong for grads who go to college

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 27, 2000

VIDALIA, La. — When Josh Byrnes stares at his computer screen, he’s staring into his future, and that future looks bright. The top five fastest-growing occupations for the next eight years are computer-related. That is good news for Byrnes, a Vidalia Class of 2000 graduate who will major in computer science at Nicholls State and plans to open his own computer programming business.

&uot;I chose computers because I’m really into that, and because it’s a growing field,&uot; said Byrnes, before leaving home for his summer job at Fred’s.

The job market looks strong for the Class of 2000 — for those who are willing to further their education and go where the jobs are, said local high school counselors.

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&uot;We keep hearing how good the economy is nationwide,&uot;&160;said Lloyd Paul, guidance counselor at Vidalia High. If students choose to stay close to home, &uot;you’re guess is as good as mine where they’ll find a job, … but most are choosing to go where the money is.&uot;

Most of this year’s Natchez High graduates will further their education by attending vocational-technical programs, getting a two-year degree or going to a four-year college or university, said 12th-grade counselor Jeanne Slover.

&uot;Most jobs do require more education, so we encourage them to continue their education so the job market will be there for them when they get out,&uot;&160;Slover said.

Many are also going into the military to get the skills training and experience that will give them the competitive edge, she said.

But Slover added that regardless of the path they take to get to their job of choice, today’s graduates should keep in mind that they will probably be retrained several times before they retire.

&uot;Think about the changes that the computer industry has gone through in the last few years,&uot;&160;Slover said. &uot;The jobs that will be big five, 10, or 20 years from now will probably be jobs that don’t even exist now.&uot;

The most in-demand majors among Natchez High graduates are computer science, health care-related fields and &uot;anything dealing with the public,&uot;&160;Slover said.

Most Vidalia High graduates are going on to college as well, with the majority majoring in computer science, engineering and medicine, as well as a few in education, said Paul, whose son just finished Louisiana Tech with a computer degree and a job waiting for him.

Meanwhile Byrnes has done his homework. He predicts he will be in an in-demand group of graduates, since less than 2 percent of those who get into computer science actually graduate in that major.

Also, Byrnes took entrepreneurship classes in high school and researched the demand for programming businesses.

&uot;It’s something I&160;enjoy, and I think I&160;can make a go in it,&uot;&160;he said.