Emma Moore, Director of Careers and Employability at University of Liverpool outlines the impacts of the pandemic on graduate employability.
This year’s final year students, set to graduate in a few months’ time, are different to any other. Most of them started university in September 2019 and have had every year of their studies disrupted by Covid. This cohort of students have been denied most of the ‘normal’ part time work experiences (restaurants, bars, events and retail). We have also seen a massive drop in the numbers doing more formal work experience – placements and summer internships as hundreds of opportunities were cancelled due to the challenge of offering them remotely.
Pre-pandemic at the University of Liverpool, we would routinely welcome over 500 different employers onto campus each year to connect with our students in a whole variety of ways from careers fairs to networking events. Whilst many of these activities have been replicated virtually as we all now know it is much more difficult making in depth connections through a screen. Plus, many of our students have little experience of meeting people in a professional context face to face and so are unsure how to act, how to dress or what to talk about.
How this is manifesting itself amongst this cohort of students is a huge lack of confidence. This is making the cohort reticent to put themselves out there and apply for jobs. As employers I urge you to be kind when reviewing applications; CVs may be a little emptier than usual, candidates may have a little less to talk about interview, they may be a little more nervous. However, once they join your business though you will discover the new digital skills they have developed through blended learning, the increased levels of creativity and their general excitement to be back out there!
At the University of Liverpool we are playing our part too, earlier this year we launched the LCR Grad Scheme because we understand it is difficult for SMEs to attract and recruit graduates in the current climate, financially and logistically. Once in post we also offer the hired graduate a six month training and development programme aimed at building their confidence and accelerating progression.
Employability is at the heart of graduate learning and we know that given a chance, our graduates will prove this to those businesses out there who are seeking the right talent. Work with us and take part in initiatives such as the LCR Grad Scheme, so that together we can give young people the opportunities they deserve.
Emma Moore, Director of Careers and Employability at the University of Liverpool.