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Recent U.S. college graduates disillusioned, underemployed: poll

Students take their seats for the diploma ceremony at a university in Cambridge, Massachusetts May 24, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Students take their seats for the diploma ceremony at a university in Cambridge, Massachusetts May 24, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

NEW YORK (Reuters) - More than 40 percent of recent U.S. college graduates are underemployed or need more training to get on a career track, a poll released on Tuesday showed.

The online survey of 1,050 workers who finished school in the past two years and 1,010 who will receive their degree in 2013 also found that many graduates, some heavily in debt because of the cost of their education, say they are in jobs that do not require a college degree.

Thirty-four percent said they had student loans of $30,000 or less, while 17 percent owed between $30,000 to $50,000.

"For our nation's youngest workers, as well as for the workforce at large, there is a real need for employers to reexamine how they hire, train and develop their employees," said Katherine Lavelle, of the global management consulting firm Accenture, which conducted the survey.

Nearly half, 42 percent, of recent graduates expect they will need an advanced degree to further their career and almost a quarter are already planning to take graduate courses.

More than half of graduates said it was difficult finding a job, but 39 percent were employed by the time they left college. Sixty eight percent said they are working full time, while 16 percent are in part-time positions.

The top industries that graduates wanted to work in were education, media and entertainment and healthcare.

Just over half, 53 percent, of graduates found full-time jobs in their field of study.

In addition to being underemployed many graduates thought they would have done better in the job market if they had studied a different major, and more than half also intended to go back to school within the next five years.

The survey uncovered a gap between what students expect to earn in their first job and their actual salary. Only 15 percent of this year's graduates think they will earn less than $25,000 but a third of recent graduates said they make that amount or less.

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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