Jobs snatched away by panicking employers, bosses favouring a more experienced set of hands and a graduates left to fight it out for what’s left – this is the job market for graduates who have been left in the dust of Covid-19.
Recent data released by the Office for National Statistics has found that unemployability among recent graduates in quarter three of 2020 is a worrying 12%.
Quarter three (Q3) usually produces the highest unemployability rates as it’s the period in the year where the majority of university leavers graduate.
Therefore, the seriousness of this statistic only becomes evident when you compare 2020 to previous years. On average, since 2017, the unemployability rate of graduates is 6%, meaning the pandemic has doubled the woes of students hoping to enter the world of work.
Thomas Beckett graduated from Nottingham Trent University in the midst of the pandemic and saw a job in which he had expected to walk into taken away.
For the remainder of his university life he was left fighting for scraps.
Thomas said: “There just seemed to be loads of jobs available [pre-lockdown]. I saw deadlines being extended and things like that. So yeah, it looked quite promising for in terms of jobs in December.
“One company basically offered me a job so I was just waiting to hear back from them.
“It must have taken maybe two months, three months to get back. The only thing left was to do was to have a chat and explain to me what I would be doing on my graduate scheme.
“I was just waiting for a date to be set for my final meeting. I eventually got a date but two days before they cancelled it.
“I waited for another date but the more time that went by the less likely I thought I was going to hear back from them until months later they informed me that the graduate scheme had been cancelled.”
The student from Wales even contemplated looking into other industries away from his dream job as a surveyor due to the shortage of opportunities available.
The Real Estate graduate said: “I started looking for anything available, by that I mean not in property. It was certainly a change compared to how I treated job hunting before the pandemic as I was picking and choosing what I wanted.
“In the end I was lucky because I did want to work in public sector and a job came up in the public sector.”
“I’m glad I’m where I’m at now but this year has been tough. It was very tough.”
Martin Trew is a high ranking director at Davies Group, who are a professional services provider to the insurance industry.
Martin oversees the majority of recruitment within his department at Davies Group and has said that his industry is one of the ‘fortunate’ ones.
Even so, the IT director said: “I actually haven’t hired any graduates in the past year. I would also definitely say that it seems we’re hiring less graduates since the pandemic.
“In my department of IT we have about 150 people out of a company of 5000 and within it we’ve actually lost nobody, we’ve actually grown.”
Martin has found that due to his staff working from home he has been able to widen his net and take on people who ordinarily wouldn’t have been considered due to their location.
Martin said: “A benefit of Covid-19 is that once people realised that they didn’t have to all be sat in the office, my scope of where I could employ increased.
“I didn’t have to employ within 20 miles of head office, I can now employ nationally and almost internationally.
“My staff base probably originally sat within a 50-mile circle. It now sits in a 400-mile circle.”
But what does this mean for graduates. A larger employability circle sounds good but without jobs is this really good news and how long will the job market be left ravaged?
Charlie Ball is head of higher education intelligence at Graduate Prospects.
The recruiter said: “Firstly, the graduate like market is not as bad as it looked like it was going to be.
“The first thing to bear in mind is that ‘Q3’ is immediately after graduation. So another way of looking at it is by September, only 12% of graduates in a pandemic haven’t got fully sorted out.
“We’ve got to bear in mind that Covid-19 has caused more deaths than any disease that since Spanish Flu in 1980. So we are looking at once in a century event.
“The other thing to bear in mind, is that the speed of which it happened. In three months about half the job market had shut.
“By that point, around 1 in 6 of the workforce was furloughed. We are talking about a million people on furlough.
“We use the 2008 recession because it’s the last major recession and one that’s still fresh in some people’s minds.
“In 2008, we lost about a third of vacancies. People use the word unprecedented far too often. We used the word a lot in the last recession even though what was happening was quite precedented.
“The pandemic on the other hand really is outside people’s experiences outside of a war or a major national disaster.
“This is a global natural disaster of a kind that has not been experienced in the modern age. And I think we really can’t lose sight of that.”
Despite the situation many graduates and final year students now find themselves in, Charlie did manage to find some words of encouragement for those struggling at this present moment.
He said: “We are not back to where we should be. That’s the first thing to bear in mind. We’re a lot better than it looked like we will be in May. And we’re not back to where we would have been had Covid-19 not happened.
“Even the most optimistic projections don’t see that happening until 2022.
“But what you shouldn’t be doing is looking back at your university experience with regret. Things are evolving very rapidly.
“Use every piece of support you can get your hands on, you’ve paid for it after all.
“Just don’t lose heart, keep your spirits up because there are jobs out there, trust me.”