The economic downturn caused by COVID-19 has forced millions of recent graduates and professionals into unemployment. With youth unemployment highly correlated to economic growth, those between the ages 18-24 have been majorly affected, reports World Economic Forum.
A recent study shows how damaging youth unemployment can be, with far reaching impacts. One month of unemployment between age 18-20 can cause a lifetime income loss of 2%, according to World Economic Forum reports.
The pandemic has snatched the first step of the job ladder from several young, fresh graduates, all over the world- economists believe that this situation can scar their employment and earning prospects in the long run.
An Opportunity in Disguise?
Many industry professionals, on the other hand, believe that COVID -19 is an opportunity for young professionals to redefine their goals – and work towards achieving a new definition of a fulfilling and meaningful life.
Mr. Adil Hussain Sheikh , Head of Marketing at Shan Foods, and a former IBA (Marketing & Brands) faculty member, had an interesting perspective on future job prospects of class of 2020:
I believe we are headed for another recession, in its classical sense, because GDP growth numbers are down mainly due to lower spending- out of fear or less spending power. Many people have lost their jobs or have had their disposable incomes reduced. The fear factor is uncertainty of the future, which leads to people hanging on to what they already have rather than increasing discretionary spending. In that sense a recession is foreseen, yes.
Future Job Prospects for the Class of 2020, fresh graduates
It’s clear that different sectors have been impacted differently- some have completely gone out of business, such as hospitality industry and air travel. Hotels, restaurants have seen a big hit and textile has seen a big hit too. Some FMCGs have done well, however. Food products, cleaning products have witnessed a steady demand. Overall I feel there will be lesser jobs, but this is a great opportunity for people to venture out.
He believes this is a great opportunity for people to create their own jobs, and work on their own ventures.
For me this is the best window we’ll have for a lot of people, who are qualified, and who have the skill set and have time on their hands, to venture out and try different things in order to create economic activity. And the fundamental goal there would be to identify problems, giving solutions to those problems, and trying to commercialize that. This will probably lead to more startups and an attempt to create more and more business by themselves.
The Role Business plays in society
As the business world hesitantly reopens, the generation of young professionals get a chance to rethink their job prospects and career priorities in a transformed world.
Businesses, which will suffer economic and financial challenges no less than the class of 2020 itself, will also have to rethink the role they play in the society and adapt quickly, or fear shutting down; even if they continue operations, they may lose on fresh talent and even lose some valuable existing employees.
Companies such as Unilever, P&G, have moved towards sustainable practices and integrated societal concerns into their core strategy. Similarly, other businesses have also partaken pro-social responsibilities amid COVID- 19 crisis – garment companies, such as Khaadi in Pakistan for instance, is churning face masks, automobile companies shifted their business to ventilators while cosmetic companies started selling hand sanitisers. This did create more job opportunities for fresh talent- however, these might not be their dream careers or fields, but a massive learning opportunity.
Just like corporate companies are adapting their business operations, graduates too must adapt their skill set and look for meaningful opportunities in the current scenario- even if that isn’t what they had planned on doing initially, experts believe.
The IBA Career Development Center collaborated with the IBA Alumna and General Manager-Human Resources at KFC Pakistan, Ms. Nida Nasir to conduct a webinar on “How to thrive as a fresh graduate amidst and after COVID”.
Ms. Nasir had a few interesting and useful tips for the Graduating Class of 2020:
Manage your expectations & Don’t limit your options : Don’t limit yourself to an industry or field. Keep an open mind because fields, skillsets and industries are all evolving and changing now.
Citing her own example she said;
I graduated in 2009, into a recession and there were no jobs. Freshly graduated from IBA, we all expected big multi-nationals to call us for interviews, but only small companies were calling- so many of my peers stopped going to interviews to these smaller firms and hence, lost out on opportunities. I, on the other hand, went to every interview. I could have kept a closed mind but instead I decided not to limit myself to any company or field- I wasn’t aware of how big KFC’s operations were in Pakistan until I went to the interview and got selected for the role.
This is the time to build connections- Talk to any corporate professionals and you’ll know how to talk. Do not miss out on interviews and chat with peers and professionals to gather insights.
Agility- Being agile is key. Fresh or experienced, the ability to adapt to change and being flexibile to change is of utmost importance right now. Businesses have changed forever and employees now need to be quick to adapt to these changes.
Keep a positive mindset- She advised students to not lose hope and keep a positive mindset.“There are opportunities, you just need to look in the right place”.
Watch her full webinar below to gain insights and important tips
The Post-Crisis World
While there will most certainly be immense personal and career setbacks for many of us, we can come out of this stronger and more grateful with a renewed outlook towards life – we can attempt to become valuable members of society and redefine the concept of a successful career and meaningful life. As first ones to graduate into this transformed world, perhaps the Class of 2020 will be leading the way.
All the best to the next generation of young professionals and future leaders!
Stay tuned for more interesting articles and updates.