We’re all dreaming of the day when the coronavirus becomes nothing but a distant memory with the impact it has made on all our lives, such as those searching for work and graduates who have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

The current and previous lockdowns have had a profound impact on the graduate job market, as most graduates are acutely aware of. Research by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) has shown that the number of graduate schemes fell by 12% in 2020.

The scarcity of graduate schemes is creating strong competition, with more than four times the number of applications per scheme than before the pandemic. But not all hope is lost for the graduates of 2020 and 2021.

The news isn’t all doom and gloom, while graduate schemes, just like the job market in general, have taken a huge hit due to COVID 19, the figures and data from earlier lockdowns show that graduate schemes have the capability of adapting to the many challenges the pandemic has created. For instance, the Graduate Skills Builder and Workday Schemes are recruiting for soon to be graduates and these will provide them with work experience to add to their CV. 

Although there still remains a significant decrease in the number of graduate schemes available. The annual review of graduate vacancies and starting salaries revealed that the number of graduate jobs on offer in 2021 increased by 2.5%, but there remains considerable uncertainty for graduate employers and the wider economy because of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Furthermore, surveys by the Chambers of Commerce and Totaljobs revealed that from the end of 2020, there had been a 4% increase in companies recruiting. The survey also showed that 19% of companies anticipate an increase in both size and numbers of staff they are recruiting. 

What about graduates looking at a career in PR?

It’s been a difficult time for the majority of businesses since the pandemic began, so it’s also been difficult for graduates trying to enter the job market and PR is no exception.

Fortunately, there are a variety of initiatives aimed at helping graduates to improve their experience and gain skills in order to gain an opportunity to work in PR. 

An important initiative is the Taylor Bennett Foundation which is a “charity that exists to encourage black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) graduates to pursue a career in communications”. The charity offers award-winning PR training programmes, internships and mentoring programmes and has even adapted to the pandemic and the need to social distance with their full online PR training programmes.

Graduates looking for a career in PR need to refine their skills ready for when the market re-opens, but how do they do this?

It is already difficult to gain employment in your dream industry, and with the pandemic, it has become an even bigger obstacle to overcome. The most important thing for those aspiring to work in PR is to learn or build on their knowledge of the industry.

What about graduates looking for a career in the Marketing sector? 

Fortunately, according to LinkedIn’s latest analysis of rising job categories in the UK, digital marketing, digital content and social media marketing are among the top 15 of 2021. Furthermore, the analysis revealed that Digital Content Freelancing came in at number 3. 

It is important to build skills in areas like podcasting, blogging and video editing because the most common Marketing job title was Content.

How can Graduates find the first role in Marketing? 

Careers fairs and networking events are a good way to find contacts to help get you into a Marketing graduate role. Due to the pandemic, it’s likely that these events will be virtual. 

How will businesses employing graduates have to adapt after COVID-19?

With more than half the UK currently working remotely, graduate schemes may need to adapt even when the threat of COVID decreases. This could mean a prolonged period of hybrid working, both from home and the office. If anything has been learnt from the pandemic, it is that productivity and quality of work should not decline when working remotely.

Companies may also need to adhere to stricter cleaning techniques throughout the office, conduct regular risk assessments and still maintain social distance, as we may have to adjust our lives to COVID, as scientists predict that we will have to coexist with the coronavirus.

Graduate schemes could adapt by increasing the support for mental health. Depression and anxiety and other mental health issues have been a huge problem during the pandemic, with the necessity for physical and social distancing only exacerbating the problem. 

Hopefully, employers will understand now how essential the mental health of their workforce is. Before the pandemic, mental health may not have been the first priority on the agenda for employers. However, with the increase in mental health issues the pandemic has caused, especially for young people, there is now more appreciation in its importance.

So, overall does the future of graduate job opportunities look rosy after COVID 19? 

Well yes and no. Or maybe we can’t really say for sure and this is all speculation from looking at recent trends? 

The data, however, demonstrates the job market certainly appears to be improving, which looks promising for a world post COVID. Graduate schemes and the way we work may be very different to what it once was in both positive and negative ways. 

On a more positive note, with the rapid introduction of the vaccine throughout the UK, this creates the possibility of more face-to-face graduate schemes and job opportunities which will hopefully help tackle the unbelievable competition of gaining employment.