Drink Careers 101

Trend Analysis

  1. The Unemployment Crisis in the United States and Millennial College Graduates
  2. The Economic Viability of the Beverage Industry
  3. The Evolution of Beverage Higher Education

1. The Unemployment Crisis in the United States and Millennial College Graduates

The United States is currently in the midst of the worst economic recession and unemployment crisis in decades, with millennial college graduates struggling the most. Many are burdened with large amounts of debt from education loans, which can be financially devastating if they are unable to secure quality employment after leaving school.

About 48 percent of employed U.S. college graduates are in jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests requires less than a four-year college education... The proportion of overeducated workers in occupations appears to have grown substantially; in 1970, fewer than one percent of taxi drivers and two percent of firefighters had college degrees, while now more than 15 percent do in both jobs.
- Center for College Affordability and Productivity Report, "Why are Recent College Graduates Underemployed," January 2013

...the employment picture is still bleak, especially for those just emerging from college. More than two million college graduates are now unemployed and millions more are underemployed...young graduates face the bleakest odds among all jobseekers, as their real unemployment rates hover near 17 percent.
- Huffington Post, "A Temporary Solution For Jobless College Grads," July 2012

The U.S. is now facing a professional cognitive cliff, as current graduates are being deprived of crucial career building for the fourth year in a rown since the 2008 recession. It is unclear how much this cognitive cliff will cost our country in the long run -- but it will be magnified the longer we fail to create quality early employment opportunities.
- Huffington Post, "Millennial Unemployment: The Cognitive Cliff," December 2012

For the first time in history, the number of jobless workers age 25 and up who have attended some college now exceeds the ranks of those who settled for a high school diploma or less.
- Investor's Business Daily, "New Normal: Majority of Unemployed Attended College," May 2012

Across the country, tens of thousands of underemployed and jobless young people, many with college credits or work histories, are struggling to house themselves in the wake of the recession, which has left workers between the ages of 18 and 24 with the highest unemployment rate of all adults...These young adults are the new face of a national homeless population, one that poverty experts and case workers say is growing.
- New York Times, "After Recession, More Young Adults are Living on Street," December 2012

In addition to short term job market challenges, economists predict that high unemployment and slow job growth are likely to continue for years to come with serious long term effects.

Past and projected future growth in college enrollments and the number of graduates exceeds the actual or projected growth in high-skilled jobs, explaining the development of the underemployment problem and its probable worsening in future years.
- Center for College Affordability and Productivity Report, "Why are Recent College Graduates Underemployed," January 2013

The economy is still struggling...And it won't be solved without a difficult stretch of high unemployment and slow growth that will likely last for six or seven more years, producing America's own version of Japan's "Lost Decade."
- CNN, "America's Own 'Lost Decade'," June 2011

The current job market is so challenging that research shows it is dramatically influencing the behavior and mindset of college students.

New York students preparing to graduate told The Post they're terrified they won't land their dream job -- or any full-time work at all -- with their degrees..."Now, it's not so easy to land an entry-level gig. If you have a bachelor of arts degree, it's like, 'So what?' It's like being a high-school drop-out," said [Baruch College psychology major Alina Shateno, who is in the process of changing careers].
- New York Post, "Unemployment Woes Weigh on New York City's College Seniors," October 2012

University diplomas used to be a symbol of insurance -- a hopeful reassurance that upon entering the job market a single piece of paper could vouch for my achievements, validate my existence and hopefully qualify me for real-world opportunities. My naivete and sense of entitlement has faded with mounting student debt, anxiety about the looming fiscal crisis and the bleak portrait of recent U.S. unemployment rates, particularly among young people.
- Seattle Times oped by University of Washington Student Sandi Halimuddin, "High Unemployment for Young People Discourages College Students," December 2012

As challenging as the current U.S. job market is, college students that proactively pursue a career path while still in school with a strategic academic plan and experience-based learning opportunities are more likely to succeed in finding employment after graduating.

Some recent graduates say they have landed jobs by starting early, networking, taking multiple internships and breaking through Internet screens with personal connections. "Many Millennials are missing the main point with their first job," says Jim Davis, who landed a job at a Des Moines marketing firm right out of Drake University last year. "It should be a focus during college to attain experience -- job shadows, internships -- and build their networks. Part of this falls on universities as well, pushing degrees instead of experience."
- USA Today, "Grim Job Prospects Could Scar Today's College Graduates," June 2012

Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, said many people with a bachelor's degree face a double whammy of rising tuition and poor job outcomes. "Simply put, we're failing kids coming out of college," he said, emphasizing that when it comes to jobs, a college major can make all the difference. "We're going to need a lot better job growth and connections to the labor market, otherwise college debt will grow."
- Yahoo News, "1 in 2 New Graduates are Jobless or Underemployed," April 2012

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2. The Economic Viability of the Beverage Industry

The beverage industry is one of only a handful of industries that has experienced consistent growth during the recent recession...

Alcohol sales climbed with little interruption throughout the recent recession, and have continued to expand in recent months...Alcoholic beverage sales grew by nearly 10% during the 12 months ended May 31, [2011]...even though the average unemployment rate during that time exceeded 9.3%. Sales expanded more than 9% in 2008, the first full year of the recession, when the average unemployment rate was 5.8%. In 2010, sales jumped more than 9% as unemployment grew to 9.6%. "These numbers grew almost in spite of the recession," said Sageworks analyst Sam Zippin, noting health care was the only other industry to maintain growth through the recession.
- CNN, "Alcohol Sales Thrive in Hard Times," June 2011

Growth of the craft brewing industry in 2011 was 13% by volume and 15% by dollars compared to growth in 2010 of 12% by volume and 15% by dollars.
- Brewers Association, "Craft Brewing Statistics"

Total wine sales in the U.S. from all production sources--California, other U.S. states and foreign countries--climbed to a new record of 347.0 million cases, a 5.3 percent jump from 2010, with an estimated retail value of $32.5 billion...
- The Wine Institute, "2011 California and U.S. Wine Sales," March 2012

... offering a range of compelling career options for qualified college graduates entering the workforce.

"We've had great success in seeing our students take jobs in the viticulture industry," said Keller, the Washington State University Chateau Ste. Michelle Distinguished Professor of Viticulture. "We barely have time to hand them their degrees before they are out the door to go work in vineyards all over the world."
- WSU News, "WSU Students Growing Some of the World's Best Grapes," August 2012

How does a liberal arts major, fresh out of college and with little wine experience, hit the ground running in the wine industry? By apprenticing with seasoned winemakers, by hiring consultants, and by taking Washington State University's online enology certificate program, an experience that Westport Winery's Dana Roberts described as enlightening and invaluable.
- WSU Voice of The Vine, "New Winemaker Hits the Ground Running with WSA Online Enology Cert. Program," August 2012

Beverage careers represent a largely overlooked employment solution for college graduates; however, unless you have a personal interest or connection to the beverage industry, it is extremely difficult to be aware and academically prepare to compete for those opportunities, especially with many college undergraduates being under the legal drinking age when they begin their studies and select their major.

Furthermore, the beverage industry, especially wine, is exclusive and inaccessible to college students that can't relate to the traditional core consumer demographic of affluent Caucasians, creating another barrier for college students who might otherwise consider pursuing a wine career.

The problem, which in my opinion the wine industry has never wanted to admit much less deal with, is that wine is pretty much an upscale beverage for white people of European heritage. That's worked well, in the past, but with these demographic changes (California already has more people of color than whites), a strategy that used to work seems destined to fail in the future.
- SteveHeimoff.Com, "As the US Grows More Diverse, The Wine Industry Remains White," May 2012

Women have also struggled with access in the wine industry, and encouraging young women in college to consider pursuing a career in the wine industry will empower them to succeed and overcome any limitations implied by the status quo, particularly in regards to high level positions typically held by men.

The paper's (Evidence of Women Winemakers' Success in a Male Dominated Field) authors reached the conclusion that "proportional to their representation in the field, the wines from California wineries having lead women winemakers are more highly acclaimed in comparison to those of their male counterparts." Such accolades lead many people to falsely believe that women hold a large number of lead winemaker positions, Gilbert says, when in fact less than 10% of California wineries have female lead winemakers.
- Wines & Vines, "More Women at Acclaimed Wineries," July 2012

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3. The Evolution of Beverage Higher Education

As the beverage industry has grown and evolved, beverage higher education has grown and evolved as well. Institutions offer options ranging from weekend certificate programs to beverage-specific degrees, and today's higher education student has a wide variety of options in terms of how to get the education they need to succeed.

Located in the heart of California wine country and created through a partnership between [Sonoma State University] and the wine industry, [The Wine Business Institute] is the first and only program in the United States to focus exclusively on the business aspects of the wine industry.
- Sonoma State University Wine Business Institute Website

Since so many individuals have a thirst for the wine industry, San Diego State University's College of Extended Studies continues to present its popular, newly-designed Professional Certificate in the Business of Wine program to prepare students for success in wine-related occupations...His course presents an overview of the many possibilities in this exciting industry through exploring current wine market trends and an analysis of issues involved in wine business start-ups and potential strategies for success.
- Scoop San Diego, "SDSU Course Examines Wine Business Opportunities," February 2012

The wine world has sommeliers that are the best in their field. In the beer world however, the profession of 'beer sommelier' is much younger. The Cicerone Certification Program has only been around for five years, and it's quickly becoming the industry standard.
- KUNC Radio, "To a Cicerone the Flavor of Beer = Taste + Aroma," January 2013

The majority of professional bartenders have worked their way up the bar hierarchy, through years as bar backs, servers and bussers. However, if you're looking for a course that helps you break into the profession or have been mixing professionally for awhile and want to step up your game or hone a few skills, there are a number of options available.
- About.com, "Bartending Schools," July 2010

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