Graduates showing signs of Covid-related economic ‘scarring’ – report

The report, from the University of Southampton and AGCAS, makes 14 recommendations to ameliorate the scarring, including four specifically addressed to HEIs

Recent graduates are showing signs of Covid-related economic ‘scarring’, according to a joint report from the University of Southampton and the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS).

Data collected between six and nine months post-university showed a graduate unemployment rate of 16%. The picture was worse for those with disabilities, of whom more than one in five were unemployed.

Since March 2020, over half of all graduates had experienced being unemployed for longer than two weeks, or had been employed in a job that did not draw on their graduate qualifications or skills.

A quarter of graduates had been furloughed and just under 15% made redundant.

More than two-thirds of the 2,871 graduates surveyed felt that their experience had made them question the value of their degree.

It was already clear, even early into the pandemic, that the weight of economic fallout would be unequally shouldered by people aged 18-24 – report

“The magnitude of the recession caused by the pandemic is unparalleled in modern times,” says the report, and may leave an indelible scar on the economy.

“’Scarring’ is also a phenomenon that affects individuals,” it continues. “Individuals whose employment outcomes are impacted by situations outside of their control can experience the depletion of their immediate and longer-term career prospects, akin to scars forming in their employment experiences and identity.”

In attempt to ameliorate any scarring, the report’s authors makes 14 recommendations, of which four are specifically addressed to higher education institutions (HEIs) and careers services:

  • HEIs should recognise the impact that Covid-19 has had on graduate employment and opportunities, and consequently explore the extension of access to relevant university support and infrastructure, e.g. via career and skills development online learning resources
  • Careers and employability services should be resourced appropriately in order to provide targeted support to graduates most affected by the challenging labour market
  • HEIs should ensure that careers education and work experience opportunities are considered as essential parts of the university experience
  • HEIs should continue to draw on alumni networks to support graduates, including targeted support and mentoring for those experiencing greatest challenges

You may also like: Graduate Outcomes Survey shows a fall in the employment rate for Covid-impacted graduates

“It was already clear, even early into the pandemic, that the weight of economic fallout would be unequally shouldered by people aged 18-24, those from an ethnic minority group, women,
young workers and disabled workers,” says the report.

“Graduates, many of whom inhabit a number of these intersecting identities, are already being adversely affected by the economic and employment challenges associated with the pandemic, as well as the health, personal and societal challenges.”

The full report can be read here.

From the archive: In April 2020 we reported on AGCAS’s belief that higher education providers could help students overcome the impact of coronavirus on graduate employability


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