Reviewing lockdown life and attempts at emergence into a limited ‘new normal’ with no previous experience of what ‘normal’ career entry should look like, Amy Grace offers a first-hand perspective of life through the eyes of a young graduate
Lockdown has been financially tough for a lot of young adults. Young people are often in a position of relative financial instability and are usually less well established in their workplace. They usually don’t have substantial savings to fall back on. Younger people also frequently work zero hours contracts, or for companies that describe them as ‘self-employed contractors’, and these categories of employment aren’t subject to the same protections given to full-time workers. A significant fraction of the hospitality sector, for example, – an industry that employs many younger people – was immediately laid off at the start of the pandemic. This led to an explosion of younger hospitality workers sleeping rough near the start of lockdown.
There’s a lot of uncertainty, trying to find work during this time. The number of Job Centre claims has spiked considerably over the course of lockdown, and there seems to be much more competition in the job market due to higher unemployment. However, graduate and lab-based jobs usually offer full-time contracts with fixed notice periods, and I believe this may have made the government’s furlough scheme more effective in preserving both graduate and research-based roles. Graduate jobs are also frequently office-based, and those jobs can more easily be done remotely. I suspect the market for graduate roles is less over-saturated than the job market as a whole.
In my view, the most important thing businesses can do is to retain their current workers and, where possible, hire more. Customer-facing businesses should also try to err on the side of excess in their social distancing protocols. I’ve heard horror stories about customer-facing businesses where the owner has reopened and refused to implement any safety procedures at all.
I’m told that the media has presented young people as resistant to lockdown, but my own experience has been that young people specifically are often very concerned with the safety of elderly people in their communities. I think for a lot of young people, coming out of lockdown feels like an admission of defeat. The virus is still spreading, and there’s no widely available vaccine or cure. We’re told Dexamethasone only cuts the mortality rate by between a fifth and a third. I’m concerned that the government is prioritizing the economy over human life and is forcing everyone back to work by ending the financial support that allowed them to stay home. The government response has seemed both confused and confusing from the start, and I believe they could have saved lives by acting earlier. We’ve seen pandemics and near-pandemics in relatively recent history - I’d have expected the government would already have an effective contingency plan to handle one. Their plan appears to have included a lot of vagueness and wiggle-room, and I believe that’s allowed them to prioritise corporate properties over our families’ safety.
Author: Amy Grace is a graduate communicator with a focus on ethical and inclusive content creation