Times are tough for recent graduates. Not only have they completed their final year of university from home, but they are now left with a huge amount of uncertainty. Graduates have always faced the challenge of adjusting to working life after university. However, due to COVID, the job market is extremely different compared with two years ago.
Hannah Howe is a trainee teacher, who is currently completing her National Vocational Qualification in order to teach. After months of applying for jobs across the UK, she is finding it impossible to get hired.
She said: “It has been really difficult to find a graduate role because the job market is very overwhelmed at the moment. People are having to apply anywhere and everywhere they can – a few interviews that I have been for have told me that there were over 180 applicants. I have applied for countless jobs; I have currently been to 7 interviews and have been unsuccessful every time because I am up against teachers who have years of experience.”
How many people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic?
According to the latest edition of the International Labour Organisation Monitor, 114 million people lost their jobs in 2020 worldwide. The impact is roughly four times greater than that of the 2009 global financial crisis. Whilst 2021 is seeing a slow recovery, people are reluctant to change careers or leave their jobs. This has a major ripple effect on the economy and the availability of labour.
John Legg, who graduated from Farnborough College of Technology in 2020, is still on the hunt for a job a year after his course ended.
He said: “The job search has been going pretty poorly. It’s really hard at the moment because you’re faced with having to either look at just going back to retail, which is what I was doing on my gap year, or try to really put yourself out there and network and find new work. In the industry I really want to go into, which is film, they’ve been really hit hard by the pandemic.”
For young people already in work, employment loss has been particularly high in comparison to that of older age groups. Employment loss during the pandemic for 15–24-year-olds stood at 8.7 percent, whilst for older adults the loss was 3.7 percent.
During a time in which job opportunities are limited, it is even more difficult to be hired without experience. Many have expressed that this puts young people at a disadvantage for the foreseeable future.
What will happen in the next few years?
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder says that the future of the labour market is still vulnerable.
He said: “The signs of recovery we see are encouraging, but they are fragile and highly uncertain, and we must remember that no country or group can recover alone.”
Looking at the figures of university students, according to Graduate Coach, roughly 800,000 people graduate each year in the UK. Statistically, only 52% of these will land a graduate-level job. The rest are likely to be overemployed in a lower-level job. The job market is extremely competitive, with around 80 applicants for each role.
However, despite the COVID crisis, The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers still, “have over 20,000 graduate vacancies available for 2021.” Graduates may find that it just takes a while to land their dream job.
As the pandemic comes to an end, the labour market should start to recover, so that the economy has more to offer for young people.