Career Advice for School Leavers

School leavers have had a terrible time

To state the obvious, it has been a difficult time for school leavers and graduates. With the Covid, redundancies, drops in recruitment and the exams fiasco, students across the land found themselves facing a level of uncertainty not known in most of our lifetimes.

As we move beyond this and into September, many have had to make decisions which could have resounding implications for their long-term careers.

What were the options in general?

For graduates, the most obvious answer was, perhaps, to stay in academia. With few graduate jobs around and offers being withdrawn from those who had secured graduate roles, there hasn’t been much else to do. In the long term, it might have been a beneficial move as this will result in a highly skilled workforce later down the line.

However, remaining in academia whether to study a Masters’ or PHD, costs money. It might also be the case that your heart isn’t really in it. For those who did not want to increase their student debt, you’ve had to start applying for any jobs you could. Whether in retail or healthcare, some will have decided that temping or a year in an unrelated field was the best way forward.

School leavers found themselves in a similar situation. Some had their universities offers withdrawn following their exam results. Others had planned gap years to travel which were clearly difficult to carry through due to the Covid travel restrictions.

Should you wait it out to start your chosen career or should you rethink?

If you are in the situation where you left school, college or Uni with a particular career in mind, such as one in the travel industry, the situation may have left you not knowing where to turn.

Taking the travel industry as an example, those who achieved qualifications in travel and tourism with the hope of joining a cabin crew, will be stumped.

If you are quite open, there a number of occupations you could consider from teaching assistant to healthcare worker. If you live outside of London, there are currently some very interesting roles. Do take a look at your hobbies too. For instance, if you are an experienced rider and have cared for horses, you could consider a Head Lad/Lass role.

However, if you are determined to wait out the storm, it is a good idea to look at how you will occupy your time. Whether you take a course to improve your skills or look a voluntary work, you will need to consider how these activities will relate to your chosen career. Many employers are still having issues finding talent with the right digital skills. While seems to be an issue for more senior vacancies, digital skills are definitely those you will need now and in the future.

If you are still finding it difficult to know where to turn, it does look like more help in on the way. The government has launched its ‘Kickstart’ Scheme and there are initiatives being led by Universities UK in conjunction with the Institute for Student Employers and Local Enterprise Partnerships. These organisations are drawing up internship schemes as well as proposals for interest breaks on Master’s loans and opening funding for shorter, employment specific courses.

Don’t Give Up

To a greater extent though, there is no right or wrong answer at this time. As long as you are thinking ahead, researching and making plans, you will find a career in the long run. It might not be the exact career you expected but possibly within the same industry.

What is certain, is that now is the time to dig deep, draw on all of the resilience that you have and keep going. As difficult as things are, don’t give up!

If you give up, you will get stuck. But if you’re feeling discouraged, speak to the recruiters. Call as many as you can find. While they might not have suitable vacancies right now, they will be happy to offer you advice once you have explained your objectives to them. There are a lot of us around!

Useful links:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-apply-for-a-grant-through-the-kickstart-scheme

https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Digital-Inclusion/Documents/ITU%20Digital%20Skills%20Toolkit.pdf

https://www.cbi.org.uk/media/2836/final_digital-skills_june.pdf

https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/2020/supporting-graduates-covid19-economy-june-2020.pdf