27% of students and graduates change career plans due to Covid-19

March, 2021

Professional support and guidance is vital as students and graduates re-evaluate their careers due to the pandemic, reports Prospects at Jisc

Prospects surveyed more than 6,500 students and graduates to find out how Covid-19 was impacting their career decisions and experiences.

More than a quarter of respondents had changed their career plans due to the pandemic and 37% said they are still uncertain about what they will do.

Students and graduates cited a variety of reasons for switching their plans. Many had been inspired by people who were actively involved in supporting the pandemic response while others said they wanted to escape industries that were struggling such as travel and hospitality.

Some respondents said they were looking at apprenticeships as an alternative to study, so they could start to earn money. Three quarters of respondents said that they had looked for an apprenticeship or training scheme in the last 12 months.

Training and development opportunities, career progression and work/life balance were the top three most important factors students and graduates cited when considering their career options.

Prospects also asked about the challenges being faced. Those at school said taking care of their mental health was their biggest challenge followed by studying at home. College and university students and graduates cited that keeping motivated was their main challenge, followed by taking care of their mental health.

Nabilah Thagia, 17 from Bolton, is studying for her A Levels at college. She said 'I had set my sights on engineering in year 10 but had second thoughts because there were so many other options available that I enjoyed. Reading about the amazing contributions engineers were able to make during the pandemic, through manufacturing ventilators, PPE and statistically modelling the spread of Covid-19 definitely helped to change my mind.

'I’ve decided to pursue engineering as a career, so will be undertaking a degree apprenticeship. This gives me the best of both worlds as I can gain valuable work experience and industry-recognised qualifications at the same time. The degree apprenticeship schemes in the UK are of a very high quality so I'm really excited for this next step in my engineering career.'

Charlie Ball, Head of Higher Education Intelligence for Prospects at Jisc said, 'The developments and research in health and social care and other industries are making people see those careers with a fresh perspective. These careers can be both challenging and rewarding, and they will have certain requirements, so it’s vital to seek professional advice and guidance. 

'The expert support available from university and college careers services will help those feeling lost or uncertain of what to do next. With challenging job prospects and students off campus, many young people are naturally feeling vulnerable and isolated. It's vital that we find more ways to deliver career advice and support to young people, particularly those in under-represented groups who are at most risk of disadvantage. We must remember that although students and graduates have shown remarkable resilience and adaptability during the last year, the job and career prospects of the young have been hit disproportionately hard by this pandemic and they deserve the best support we can offer.'

Prospects is expanding its Future You programme in 2021 with more events, content, videos and podcasts as well as more virtual opportunities to bring students and graduates together with employers and careers advisors.

Career advice as well as the Job Match online career planning tool can be found at prospects.ac.uk

Media enquiries

Clare Tregaskis, Prospects and Jisc Student Services, clare.tregaskis@jisc.ac.uk, 07792 429227

About the Prospects Student Survey 2021

Prospects is surveying students and graduates about their careers between January and March 2021. The findings reported (1 March) were taken from the sample on 18 February 2021.

About Prospects

Prospects has worked at the heart of higher education for nearly 50 years. Part of Jisc Student Services, the directorate collaborates with government, universities and employers to improve student and graduate career outcomes through information, guidance and opportunities. It includes Prospects.ac.uk, which is visited by 2.1 million students and graduates each month, Prospects Luminate and the UK's official postgraduate course database. Jisc Student Services also manages Prospects Hedd degree verification and fraud services.

About Jisc 

Jisc's vision is for the UK to be a world leader in technology for education and research. It owns and operates the super-fast national research and education network, Janet, with built-in cyber security protection.  Jisc also provides technology solutions for members (colleges, universities and research centres) and customers (public sector bodies), helps members save time and money by negotiating sector-wide deals and provides advice and practical assistance on digital technology. Jisc is funded by the UK higher and further education and research funding bodies and member institutions. 

For more information, contact kate.edser@jisc.ac.uk, or 07918 562869. Alternatively,  use media@jisc.ac.uk or 07443 983571.

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