I’ve just published a new article on WONKHE looking at the impact of COVID-19 on the graduate labour market. In it I try to sound the alarm about some of the major impacts that the crisis is having on the futures of young people.
This is what I had to say…
COVID-19 is already having an impact on almost every aspect of ourlives. For this year’s final year students the impact has been dramatic. Many are still largely focused on finishing their programmes and graduating, but they may also be wondering what is going to happen when they leave university. And, while universities are shifting teaching and examinations online, many graduate employers are also making big changes in response to the crisis.
At the Institute of Student Employers we started to hear rumours in early to mid-March about employers cancelling activities with universities and even reneging on job offers. To investigate this further we conducted a survey which received 124 responses from graduate employers.
I finish the article by offering some ideas of how universities and government should act in the face of this crisis.
For universities, this means that the provision of career support will continue to be critical over the next few months. Such support will need to be proactive, reaching out to current students and recent graduates who may not be aware of the deteriorating labour market situation. Career support also needs to be broadly framed, for example helping students to deal with health issues and manage periods of unemployment whilst maintaining their employability, as well as helping them to find and get the jobs that are available.
Government needs to recognise that this is an immediate problem that must be addressed. There is a need to establish a youth employment taskforce to respond to the problems that emerge over the next few months and beyond. Such a taskforce could monitor the situation and investigate what policy solutions might be needed. For example, is there a need to increase students’ access to career and employment support services after they graduate, to subsidise employers to provide internships or to create new mechanisms for the pooling of talent and risk.
COVID-19 threatens so many social and economic norms that it is understandable that government is struggling to address them all. However, guarding against the emergence of a lost generation, should be one of the highest priorities.