With the Covid-19 pandemic there is a surge of highly qualified educated young people but not a large job market to meet the demands. The current economic climate and the Covid-19 crisis has continued to impact the job market. This affects all young people, with and without degrees.
Unemployment; The Statistics
According to Thejournal.ie unemployment statistics which were taken in June indicated a rate of 51% of those unemployed were between the ages 15 to 24 years. In October 2020 the youth unemployment rate in Ireland, aged 15-24 years, according to the CSO, did however fall to 19% from 19.8% in September which was the highest it has been since November of 2015. While, the unemployment was 5.6% for those aged 25 to 74 years. This indicates it is primarily those who have either finished their Leaving Cert or college degrees who are being the most affected by unemployment .
From summer 2020 there are around 600,000 graduates attempting to navigate career opportunities through a pandemic. Arguably the 2020 graduating class has had to face one the most difficult and competitive job markets in recent times. With unemployment on the rise and so many students currently on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, it is easy for today’s youth to get discouraged whilst job searching in this current economic climate.
Are There Too Many Graduates?
With all these graduates, one might feel like Benjamin Braddock from the famous film The Graduate. The film focuses on a recent graduate who essentially has no aim in life. Now more than ever graduates may be able to relate to this famous character.
This raises the thought that perhaps there are just too many graduates right now. Often young people today feel the societal pressure to attend college, and that anything less just isn’t good enough. Due to an increase in young people going into third level education, there is grade inflation to match that. There is an increase in those achieving First Class Honours and 2.1 grades. According to the Journal.ie, in 2019, the number of Firsts rose by as much as 12.63% in 22 of 30 higher education institutions surveyed. While the number of 2.1s awarded to students rose by up to 11.47% across 24 of the 30 institutions. However, this increase in grades can be seen even before third level education, with an increase in students getting over 500 points in the Leaving Cert.
The increase in grades and those with University degrees leaves employers unable to differentiate between incoming graduate employees who have achieved Firsts or 2.1s and makes the criteria far more difficult to gain employment in such a competitive market.
The issue may not be with graduates and the job market alone, there is immense pressure on those doing their Leaving Certificate to enter into a third level education, even if it is not really what they want.
Young People Suited to College
Students in 6th year face a lot of pressure to choose what they want to do next in life. Many are made feel the Leaving Cert is the be all and end all and attending college is the only acceptable option.
Be it pressure from parents, or not wanting to be the only friend to not pursue third level education, many teenagers and parents alike assume that going to college is the only viable option to achieve a stable and successful economic destiny.
The societal pressure to sort out your “life” and economic future at the mere age of 16/17 is also a huge reason where there is an inflation in graduates, and not enough jobs to meet their qualification.
Many graduates aren’t aware of their own skill set and don’t know the ins and outs of experience needed for certain jobs. This leads to choosing unsuitable jobs, or often settling for a job that has little to no relation to their chosen degrees.
Those who choose mismatched jobs are likely to have lower earnings and a lower chance of career progression. Often graduates face an “experience gap”, with many recruiters preferring to hire those who have had a few years experience in the workforce, rather than recruit young people straight from university. However the need for multiple years experience paired with the societal pressure to get a degree straight out of secondary school, simply doesn’t add up.
The job market needs to be more accessible to young graduates. Perhaps a solution starts with greater career guidance and advice overall, to avoid graduates falling into unsuitable jobs.
The job market and universities should be helping develop the skill sets of graduates to allow them to be able to access different industries without having to have three or four years experience. This will lead to graduates choosing far more fulfilling roles out of college.
What do graduates themself think, When asked “How do you feel about being unemployed as an educated graduate? Do you feel the job market isn’t meeting the demand for the increase in well educated young graduates?” This was one graduate’s response.
Ciara McGuiness, Age 22 from Dublin, a recent graduate from DIT in International Business who is now pursuing a MSc in Digital Marketing.
“It’s disheartening. Finishing up college you think there’s going to be so many options for you but since Covid-19, it’s been extremely hard trying to find a job. I have a business degree but there’s so many business graduates looking for jobs also. What’s disappointing is that a lot of graduates are settling for jobs that they don’t want to do but it’s all they can find. You’re lucky if you find a job you are passionate in”.
As a recent graduate myself, I have to agree with Ciara. It is certainly disheartening, that it is so difficult to find a job. I think a lot of young graduates would agree with what Ciara has to say. Young people are settling in jobs that don’t fulfill them and the sad truth is you are indeed lucky to land a job you are passionate about. This rings truer than ever. With a current pandemic, it seems more and more businesses are shutting down and fewer jobs are available especially to those fresh out of college who lack experience.
Going forward Ireland may be at risk of losing their young workforce yet again to emigration.
This all raises the question, what will be done? That is if anything will be done.