COVID-19 impact: Final year students across colleges stare at bleak job prospects

By Aruna Natarajan | Jul 20, 2020
Career| Achievers Network


The coronavirus pandemic that has swept the globe is perhaps going to be recorded in history as the most impactful and consequential event of this century. It has stretched the capacities of governance, public health infrastructure and social administration of affected nations to their limits. At the same time, the lockdown enforced to prevent the spread has brought economies to the ground and jeopardised the job prospects of many.

With unemployment soaring during these tough times, recent graduates waiting in the wings and looking for their first job feel marooned.

According to the All India Survey of Higher Education by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, India saw 32.9 lakh students graduate from the Arts, Commerce, Science and Humanities streams in 2019. Engineering and MBA graduates accounted for around 16 lakh graduates last year, and the numbers may be expected to be comparable for 2020. In an already bleak job market with growing unemployment rates, a majority of these graduates are likely to find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to secure employment. COVID-19 has not only altered our ways of life radically in the present, it has also thrown the future of lakhs into question.

Students face uncertainty

“I was eagerly waiting for the placement season and to land my first job. We had been attending special modules geared towards preparing us for job interviews, but now we have no idea if the placement sessions will happen any time soon,” said Sai Lakshmi, a student of commerce in SMS Arts College in Coimbatore. Across the country, graduates such as Lakshmi are anxious about their job prospects. They are fearful of what will be left of their hopes and are bracing for an uncertain future.

Students who had turned down the idea of pursuing a higher education in favour of jobs have also begun regretting their decision. “ It was a toss-up for me between preparing for an MBA and looking for a job. I decided that I would work for a few years before pursuing higher education to shore up my finances and gain experience. But with the current situation, I wish I had opted to study instead, as I don’t know if I will get a job at all,” rues N Srikanth, a final year Mechanical Engineering student in Datta College, Mumbai.

Added worry: Repayment of education loans

For many, the prospect of employment after their education was crucial in their decision to pursue expensive courses. Many took out education loans to complete their studies and pinned hopes on the jobs they would get, to help them repay the loans and ease the financial burden on families.

“I only opted to do an MBA from a good college despite financial issues because of the job prospects it offered. I have an education loan to repay but if I don’t secure a well-paying job it is going to be a huge burden on my family in the years to come,” says Rohith* a final year MBA student at Allianz Business School in Bangalore.

As part of the economic relief measures proposed by the Central Government, a three-month moratorium on the payment of EMIs for term loans, including education loans, is on the cards. But the interest accrued will not be waived. This will result in borrowers paying a higher instalment for repayment or an extension in the loan repayment period.

Rohith* doesn’t find the move very helpful for those like him. “The effect of this crisis on the job market will be long term. The waiver of EMI will help in the short term but the increased amount of money to be repaid or longer repayment period only adds to the difficult situation many like myself are in. Jobs are the need of the hour.”

Colleges and recruiters in limbo

Colleges and universities are also in a limbo about the placement season as there is little clarity on when the