2020 graduates to stay in education longer amid Covid-19 effect on the number of job opportunities

Tuesday 11 August 2020. Students graduating in 2020, or leaving school this year, are entering a jobs market with less opportunity than would be available in normal circumstances. The uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought to every aspect of life means many job vacancies, graduate schemes and training programmes are no longer open. Graduates and school leavers across the UK are affected, with economic uncertainty set to remain well into 2021. This has forced many young people to reconsider their options, with students leaving school considering university while graduates are taking on debt to return to university to gain further academic or vocational qualifications.

The jobs market is saturated and a third of companies are expected to make redundancies as a result of financial difficulty or uncertainty as a result of COVID-19. With limited skills and work experience, the impact of the pandemic is greater on the young people striving to stand out in an incredibly competitive jobs market. This is leading many graduates to continue in education, helping them to become more attractive to prospective employers while improving their chances of long-term employment in the industry or market sector of choice.

Lily Browne, a 22-year-old BA modern languages graduate, is one example of a young person facing COVID-19 uncertainty. Having completed a 4-year course at the University of Southampton, Lily returned home to Cardiff in time for the ‘lockdown’. With a high proficiency in German, French and Spanish, Lily had applied to join numerous graduate schemes as well a wide range of graduate jobs but was not successful.

Lily explained, “During lockdown it became clear that I needed to reconsider my options and, after much research and discussion with friends and family, I decided to gain a vocational qualification that will place me in a stronger position when I apply for my dream job in 2021.”

Photograph of Lily Browne - 2020 graduate from University of Southampton

Lily Browne, BA Modern Languages Graduate

Lily was accepted onto a Master’s course in PR at Cardiff University and has applied for a student loan to support her studies. Before her course begins, Lily balances her time between working part-time as a picker for home deliveries at a local supermarket and – with the aim of gaining valuable experience in her chosen field – as an intern at an independent PR and marketing agency.

“Coronavirus ruined my original plans, but I’m incredibly excited about this new chapter in my life.

The pandemic has helped me realise that I can gain valuable skills and experience while working remotely.

It has also helped turn my passion for PR – developed while writing for the student paper, Soton Tab – into a rewarding and internationally focused career.”

Lily Browne


Recent research carried out by online graduate recruiter, Milkround, and Dig-In Box, a student sampling and insight company, found that Coronavirus’ impact on graduate job prospects is massive. This year, only 18% of 2020 graduates were securing jobs, in comparison with a typical 60% finding employment before leaving university. Not only are recent graduates struggling to find jobs, but many who had places on graduate schemes have found their positions will no longer go ahead and 37% of those holding places on internships reporting that these positions have been terminated. This lack of opportunity has knock-on effects on the young people looking to gain work-ready skills.  

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Lily will study for a Master’s (MA) in International Public Relations and Global Communications Management at the world-renowned Journalism School at Cardiff University. The course will start in November 2020, ensuring that the University has the appropriate social distancing measures in place and, when required, is also able to deliver the course online.

In preparation for the Master’s course, Lily is gaining valuable experience with Lauder Consultancy – an independent PR and marketing agency. This internship will provide a useful insight into a career in PR.