Forget about graduation ceremonies, graduation parties, that final bonding trip abroad with your girls or pals. It’s a bummer for the class of 2020 — the students graduating this year — won’t experience any of these things, but they feel unimportant next to your friends and family coming through this crisis healthy and safe.
Most of my students are focused right now on preparing for their final May exams. Some of them are reluctantly studying and find it difficult to concentrate. Others are glad there is something to work on, especially when you are stuck in a tiny room in student accommodation on a ghost campus. Reluctant or eager, everyone studies hard, because we’ve told them over and over again for three years that their final year really counts. They must get that first-class degree, otherwise their career will take the scenic route right-away. Be in no doubt — the class of 2020 studies hard and they don’t worry about ceremonies, parties and trips, but they do worry about whether it even matters. With the economy on halt, will there even be any jobs they can apply to? Three years of work and a mountain of student debt — has it been all for nothing? Has the future been cancelled?
As numerous studies have shown for the last economic crisis, graduating into a recession not only means struggling to find your first job and living a couple of more years with your parents. No, it means years and years of insecure jobs with zero wage growth for most graduates. For a significant number it means being left behind permanently: If you never get the opportunity to learn on the job, your skills and knowledge grow stale, and you are part of a lost generation.
This generation doesn’t want to grow stale and they don’t want to be lost — they want to bounce back.
The economy may take a while to recover, but this does not need to be lost time for young people. Graduates are keen to contribute in whatever way they can. If there is not enough opportunity to employ them, they are keen to use the time to upskill themselves further in the meantime. We have taught this generation to take charge of their own learning, we just need to give them the means to do so.
That’s why we are lauching the #shareyourtraining #classof2020 appeal.
We are calling on businesses big and small to share with the class of 2020 learning and development materials you use inside your company. So students can skill up and be ready for their job when the economy bounces back.
If you are a big graduate employer, we are appealing to you to share with ALL students some of the training materials only a small number of select graduates will typically receive as part of your graduate scheme. If you are small and medium sized company, share your training materials, or put a short business or technical challenge together students can work through in their own time.
Students will be able to access all learning and training materials via a free online learning platform, and earn digital badges with their university or your company.
The platform will be made available to students in colleges and graduate across the UK through their institutions, and in partnership with career, employability and alumni services.
Why should you get involved in this initiative? You should get involved because doing good, is good for your company. Supporting the class of 2020 will raise the profile of your company with this company, for their lifetime. It will position your employer brand as a company that cares about learning and development, as a company where learning matter. But while raising your employer brand matters, the most important reason why should get involved is because your company believes in increasing opportunity for everyone, at a difficult time. Let’s give the class of 2020 2020 the best opportunity we can. Let’s tell young people we’re going to bounce back and we will need you. Let’s tell everyone that the future has not been cancelled.
Norbert Morawetz is Associate Prof. in Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Learning at Henley Business School, and Founder of Potential.ly, a skills and professional development platform for students and universities
Lisa B. Kahn, The long-term labor market consequences of graduating from college in a bad economy, Labour Economics, Volume 17, Issue 2, 2010. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0927537109001018
Resolution Foundation, Cross countries: international comparisons of intergenerational trends, 19 February 2018 https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/cross-countries-international-comparisons-of-intergenerational-trends/
Annie Lowrey, The Next Recession Will Destroy Millennials, 26 August 2019, The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/08/millennials-are-screwed-recession/596728/
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