These are certainly extraordinary times . . . more than 30 million unemployed, the world working from home and trying to figure out when and how to safely reopen to go back to the office. Parents are balancing work, home schooling their children and dealing with being with the family 24x7. And then we have our graduates. High school, college or from a training program robbed of their ability to finish their final semester, say good-bye to friends and professors or have one of the most important life memories – the opportunity to walk across the stage and receive their diploma.
Now don’t get me wrong. The schools are getting incredibly creative with virtual capstone projects, virtual commencements, drive-by commencement ceremonies and even looking at holding graduation at a future date so that the class of 2020, also referred to as the Class of COVID-19, has the opportunity to walk.
What is particularly disheartening is how the job market has changed overnight and is affecting college graduates. I continue to hear stories of how recent college graduates have had offers rescinded due to COVID-19. The business landscape changed with what feels like a flip of a switch with initiatives being re-prioritized, companies tightening their belts and reducing their overall workforce, hence the unemployment rate. In speaking with clients this has been an incredibly thoughtful process but when you look at it from the lens of the graduate, it seems like something else that just won’t happen, a sentiment shared with sarcasm of course.
I do understand the graduate’s perspective. My daughter is a high school senior and she too is unfortunately missing out on prom, graduation and what should have been the last most amazing spring semester at high school. We made the big decision on the college that she will attend during the pandemic, and now for her like so many other high school graduates, the fall semester of college is an unknown. Will she be moving in or studying remote?
In the United States, there are more than 14 million students set to graduate college and preparing for their future. In a recent survey of employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 14% say they are revoking offers to interns and/or full-time recruits with another 22% considering revoking current offers extended. It’s difficult to know how many students had job offers in hand before the coronavirus decimated the job market, said Phillip Gardner, Director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State.
The reality is the future of work will be different. The skills that are in demand right now are warehouse workers and delivery providers which does not match up with recent graduates’ skill sets. We are anticipating companies will be restructuring their workforce to align with the re-prioritized focus for 2020. In a recent poll conducted by Genesis10, 32% of the respondents indicated that Post COVID-19 they will be fast-tracking their digitization efforts with an increased focus on automation and cloud initiatives. For those in technology, this is good news. For those who want to develop new skills, check out Genesis10’s Dev10 Program which focuses on building junior software developers. There is an old adage that says when you are given a bowl of lemons, make lemonade. Even though we are all dealing with a lot of uncertainty this could be an opportunity to try something different or build additional skills.
The Class of 2020 got thrown the biggest curve ball of their life. Some may take a gap year and pursue graduate studies, others will stay laser-focused on taking the job market by the horns and plot a new path. One thing we all can say with certainty is that the Class of 2020 learned an incredibly important life skill which is how to adapt and be comfortable with change.