Contributor Nicole Lagacé
Being a student during a pandemic has presented a number of new challenges. We have adapted to learning from home, managed the stress of the new lifestyle, and tried to keep up our social lives through it all. Students have had to tackle many major changes this past year, and there will be many more to come as this pandemic is likely to have lasting effects on the progression of our careers in the years to come. As students during this global pandemic, we may often wonder what the future holds for the beginnings of our careers, as we are entering the job market during an economic recession.
Most of us are aware of the fact that the pandemic has led to one of the worst job markets in recent history. When the pandemic first hit, the unemployment rate rose from 5.6% up to 13.7%, and it has not yet returned to its pre-pandemic level. With unemployment rates especially high in the Gen Z cohort, and entry level jobs at an all time low, university students are fearing that they will struggle to get started in their careers. We are seeing many young adults struggle to find a job in their desired field of work, and many more are struggling to find a job at all. Many recent graduates are moving back home with their parents to reduce spending, save money, and pay off student loans. For a lot of us, this can be a discouraging reality to face but it is important to remember that these hardships are not a result of personal failures, but a reflection of the current economic state.
It’s true, entering the job market while the economy is not doing well makes it more difficult to get started in our careers. While some of us are lucky enough to land career-related jobs during the pandemic, the overall trend in our generation is a prolonged timeline to financial independence. There are currently less entry-level jobs available, which is slowing down those who are just getting started in their careers the most. Those who are able to find a job may not find one in their desired field, and may see lower pay than previously expected. Overall, this is making it more difficult to start a career right now, and makes it more difficult to save up money. Studies have stated that “those unlucky enough to start careers in a recession have been found to experience lower earnings for 10 to 15 years after graduation,” which may be a source of despair for many of us who are in this position. As students are facing a prolonged timeline to the start of their careers, this pandemic is predicted to have a lasting impact on our generation.
While this is a daunting reality, the economy is set to recover. Economists are predicting that Canada will see major growth in 2021 and 2022, which will bring an increase in investments, building, and consequently, job opportunities. Further, us students are fortunate enough to be entering the job market with university degrees. While completing a degree online is not what most were expecting, us students continue to learn valuable skills through completing our degrees. More than this, we also have the experience of being extremely adaptable and accountable during our time learning during the pandemic, which is a skill and a strength that our age group got to develop more than others. The current recession has definitely made its mark on the economy and the current job market, but thankfully, the pandemic will not last forever, and more opportunities will arise as we enter a period of economic recovery.