46% of students say Covid-19 has hampered job prospects

Almost half (46%) of students have said the pandemic has had a negative impact on their ability to find a job, according to a poll featured in the Sutton Trust's latest Covid-19 impact brief.

The poll of 895 students by YouthSight found that 18% said that they had had work experience placements cancelled or postponed, with 11% having interviews cancelled and 4% having a job offer withdrawn.

The report also includes polling of 1,005 HR decision makers in British businesses by YouGov, which found that over three-fifths (61%) of employers offering work experience  had cancelled some or all of their placements. Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) were the most likely to have cancelled all internships and work experience placements, with half (49%) doing so, compared to just under a third (29%) of larger employers.

Almost half of these employers (48%) expect that there will be fewer work experience opportunities in their businesses over the next year and 39% of graduate employers report they are likely to be hiring fewer graduates or none at all in the next 12 months.

Whilst there are expected to be fewer job opportunities in the aftermath of lockdown, promoting social mobility and fair access remain priorities for employers. Reflecting a recent focus on inequalities in the context of the pandemic, just under a third (29%) of the employers surveyed said social mobility and socio-economic diversity would be more of a priority in the next two years after the pandemic, while just a small proportion (11%) said it would become less of a priority.

The research comes alongside new guidance for employers, compiled by the Sutton Trust, on how they can champion social mobility in their workplace. In order to mitigate the impact of Covid-19, the guidance offers a series of recommendations to employers:

In the short-term, they could move work experience, internships, outreach and recruitment online where possible, ensuring this is accessible to those with limited access to the internet and devices. This provides a unique opportunity to open up such programmes to young people from a wider range of geographical backgrounds.

In the long-term, they could take into account that missed time from school and the cancellation of exams will have a bigger impact on disadvantaged students.

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