Gen-Z response to Covid-19

Jul 27, 2020 | Attraction & marketing

Trendence UK has been surveying students and recent graduates as the pandemic unfolded. Dasha Karzunina, Head of Research, shares the insights.

How must it feel to make decisions about your long-term career during Covid-19? Trendence ran its first Covid-19 pulse survey in March with 1,000 responses. A follow up survey in April received a similar response.

Employability worries

In March 63% of students were worried or less confident about getting a job as a result of the pandemic. Interestingly, in April we saw a further 22% drop in confidence.

This is not surprising given the effects of the pandemic were felt even more severely in April, with employers announcing cuts, the economy shrinking and social distancing in full swing. And at that point there was no end in sight. It’s possible that if we were to survey students now, attitudes would be more positive as the UK re-opens again. However confidence has been seriously knocked and needs to be rebuilt.

Skills development

Comparing our Covid-19 pulse survey results with the Trendence Annual Graduate Study, the skills students are prioritising have changed due to the pandemic. While students have always prioritised adaptability and problem-solving skills, since lockdown resilience has moved from ‘top 5’ to ‘top 3’, with 56% believing they’ve become more resilient as a result of lockdown.

Students are now also more positive about certain types of virtual assessment, with 68% stating they’re open to live video interviews. There is also increased openness to virtual internships/work experience, as long as students receive regular feedback and appropriate technical equipment.

High expectations

If there’s one thing that students want from current and potential employers, it’s clear, honest and regular communication – 74% said they would primarily like to know whether employers are still hiring, while 73% would like to understand how they can become more employable in lockdown.

Despite concerns about employability and flailing confidence, expectations from employers remain high. While interesting work, career prospects and development are at the heart of what students look for in employers, job security and excellent role models have become more important in recent months.

The pandemic has undoubtedly had an impact on how students feel about their employment prospects and will potentially change their decisions. It has also been an opportunity to learn and develop for many, so it’s likely that graduates will be bringing new skills to the table this September. How can employers reflect that in their hiring to build more resilient teams?

Next steps

It was clear from the beginning of the pandemic that only by cooperation would students receive the support they needed. No single organisation had all the answers, so curating the best resources and hearing from employers on an open site seemed a natural approach.  broke the mould by bringing together employers, university careers services and industry organisations to support students and recent graduates.

The goal is to provide as much useful information from as many credible sources as possible. As well as employer updates, student resources and webinars, articles by TARGETjobs and gradireland span job hunting during the pandemic and video interviewing.

Having a distribution channel that students trust – their university network – has been key to success: 99 universities have published career service details, linked to the site and many have suggested or offered content.

The website now has 17,000 unique visitors with 40 employers and 99 universities providing regular status updates. Some webinars have over 850 student registrations.

“It’s good to see how quickly collaboration across the industry can happen – a positive of the crisis,” says Stephen Isherwood, CEO of ISE. “This is thanks to employers, content collaborators and the steering group from AGCAS, AHECS, AMOSHIE, University of Hertfordshire, University of Leeds, University of Keele, MyPlusConsulting and GTI.”

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