2020 Reflections

BY Owen Firth |
22/12/20

Well what a crazy year for universities, employability professionals and students alike! Whilst it is a year most of us would like to forget, I think it is worth taking a moment to reflect and consider what we have learned.

Students

Starting with students (as we should), 2020 has completely changed their education experience. Not only in the shift to studying from home, digital connections and online learning, but also missing out on a normal campus experience.

Many also lost their casual jobs and are facing an even tougher graduate job market. And our international students faced all of these challenges often without local family or networks.

Universities

Universities certainly stepped up to the challenge, moving thousands of students off-campus and online within months, a previously impossible timeframe. And they worked even harder to engage and support students, whilst grappling with significant changes in their own institutions. Employability & careers professionals, who were already challenged with big goals and tight budgets, had to rapidly find new ways to engage students with online events, remote internships and digital tools. With students facing a more difficult graduate job market, these employability initiatives were highly valued by students.

Remote Programs

In keeping with this, at Readygrad we actually saw increased engagement from most of our education partners with the popularity of our remote internships programs and group projects, and the rollout of bite-sized employability webinars. Thankfully, most of our host companies were quick to embrace remote engagement with students, as they did with their employees.

Lessons Learned

  1. I am sure each of us have learned plenty in 2020 from our own journeys. Certainly most have experienced a level of responsiveness, agility and resilience that they didn’t know they or their organisation had. These qualities have been tested and strengthened in 2020, improving our ability to better respond to changes in the future.
  2. It has given students a chance to develop these highly-valued “future of work” skills whilst gaining exposure to remote working, which will now be part of mainstream employment by all accounts.
  3. Universities have seen how rapidly they can adapt and evolve with the right will and direction. I hope this creates new opportunities for those great people inside universities who have brilliant ideas that never see the light of day!
  4. In the landscape of employability, 2020 has emphasised the importance of graduates developing well-rounded skills that will allow them to adapt to changing workplaces and marketplaces. The prospect of a future softer graduate job market, will necessitate more innovative and impactful employability programs to position students for success.

On behalf of my amazing team at Readygrad and myself, I wish you a wonderful Christmas and hope you enjoy a well-earned break.

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