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Higher education consultant Jon Scott reviews a week in which the hearts of those working in HE may have been set racing for all the wrong reasons.

New policy papers prompt contrasting views on the way ahead for HE

Rhiannon Birch, Director of Strategic Insights and Planning at the University of Derby, observes how the recent deluge of HE policy papers has brought contrasting reactions and opinions on how the sector should engage with government proposals.

The DFE must answer growing calls for more student support

Reviewing a week of higher education news and sector developments, Mike Ratcliffe, Academic Registrar at Nottingham Trent University, argues that it is time for the Department for Education to address growing concerns about the plight of students whose education, finances and wellbeing have been severely affected by the pandemic.

Students and graduates fear loss of jobs and placements from Covid-19, survey finds

A survey of students and graduates by careers website Milkround and research company Dig-In has found many fear their career prospects will suffer as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Georgina Brazier, Jobs Expert at Milkround, outlines the findings.

Understandably, the situation around Covid-19 is having a knock-on effect for student and graduate’s confidence in the current jobs market. However, despite many businesses being forced to postpone current recruitment drives, the ISE has revealed only a quarter (27 per cent) of companies will be recruiting less graduates this year,  showing there is still demand.

At Milkround, we really wanted to understand how students and graduates are currently feeling during these uncertain times, and whether they feel their future careers may be impacted by Covid-19. To do this, we partnered with the UK’s leading student sampling and research company, Dig-In, to survey over 2,500 university students and over 100 graduates from 2019 to understand concerns amongst the younger generation, as they look to enter the workplace.

Our findings revealed that three-quarters (75 per cent) of recent graduates and current students feel that the ongoing situation around Covid-19 will heavily impact their future career prospects. Of those graduating this summer, only one fifth (18 per cent) currently have a job lined up and three-fifths (60 per cent) of those are worried their position will be impacted.
When it comes to breaking down exactly what is affecting confidence, graduates are worried about the following:

• They won’t be able to secure a job before they graduate (52 per cent)
• There won't be opportunities in the sector they want to enter (49 per cent)
• There will be more competition for jobs (43 per cent) and salaries will be impacted (25 per cent)

Not only have graduate jobs been impacted, but short-term work placements such as internships have also been affected and possibly reduced, as a direct impact of Covid-19. Our research shows just 8 per cent overall have secured an internship for this summer. However, a staggering 63 per cent of those said current circumstances have impacted their position, including over a third being terminated completely (37 per cent), moved online (17 per cent) or shortened (17 per cent). Earlier this year we found internships are increasingly necessary for many entry-level job requirements, therefore students should call on their existing professional connections to secure work opportunities and gain relevant experience.

It is clear many companies are having to pivot and adapt their plans when it comes to recruitment currently, whether that be, delivering skill-based training or virtual projects online, partnering with universities or adopting mentorship programmes. This is to ensure they are supporting their current employees and are working as effectively as possible to drive future recruitment.

However, students should be reassured there are still various well-renowned companies looking for ambitious entry-level talent, to join their business and help deliver change. Most notably, the Education, Medical, Accounting, IT and Engineering, as well as the Public sector are amongst the industries still continuing to hire. It is vital applicants make the most of this extra time to develop their softer-skills by practicing virtual interviews techniques, such as presenting on camera or video. Ultimately, this will turn them into better candidates and futureproof the workforce, as this generation look to enter an unstable jobs market and help rebuild the economy.

Milkround is here to support both employers and students and will continue to work closely with employers to promote open vacancies, ensuring students and graduates are aware of their current career options.