The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every aspect of life as we know it. From going to work, to how we shop and even going to visit friends and family. Everything has changed and, as we can do no more than sit and wait it out until the virus is brought under control and, hopefully, a vaccine is rolled out in the not too distant future, we are left to wonder what a post-COVID world will look like.
National economies have been decimated as a result of lockdown measures implemented at the height of the pandemic, with all business deemed non-essential forced to close their doors. At the time, no one had any idea when, or even if, those businesses would be able to open up again. While the majority are now up and running, albeit, at a reduced capacity, many remain closed with no end yet in sight.
It isn’t just businesses that have been impeded, with education facilities such as schools, colleges and universities also forced to close. Teachers have been working wonders to offer online lessons to students to avoid pupils falling as far behind as a total closure would leave them, but even then so many bright, young boys and girls have been left disadvantaged through no fault of their own.
Lack of Opportunity
Not only has the lockdown forced many workers to stay at home, remotely working or not working at all, it has also taken away the opportunity for so many young people to get their foot in the door through placements. Gaining experience makes up a large part of what it takes to get into the best universities, as well as boosting career prospects and with that taken away for the foreseeable future, it means that a generation of aspiring businessmen and women risk not being afforded the same opportunity as those that came before them.
Even the businesses that are beginning to open their doors will still be reluctant to take on any work experience students for the reason that, in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, they have to think carefully about who they want onsite. With the choice between an experienced worker and a green student at a time when you have to make full use of all the resources you have to hand, decision-makers are only ever going to make one choice.
While online opportunities have grown, nothing beats face-to-face interaction when you are looking to gain experience. You can read all the books and complete all the online courses you want, but nothing beats proper first-hand experience. Depending on the career of choice, it can be essential.
Teachers Out of their Comfort Zone
Going back to an earlier point about the effects on education, the pandemic has forced teachers to adopt new methods and deliver sessions in a completely new way with very little preparation. Given a few weeks to plan and prepare, teachers may well we be capable of delivering just as effective session but with, in some cases, just a day or so? It would take a monumental effort.
On top of all that, it hasn’t just been a case of asking students to work from home. The pandemic has brought with it a wealth of other distractions which can and has hampered the concentration levels of students. How can you expect students to concentrate when there is so much reason to be fearful about their own health and that of others? We aren’t living in normal times.
Because of this, teachers have been looking at ways to keep students engaged in their sessions. Some have worked with many students actually enjoying this new way of learning but, for many others, they have suffered as a result of a lack of one-to-one learning that is so often the difference between a pass and a fail.
The Knock-On Effect
With the effects on both business and education, the realisation of how fragile both are, there could be an argument to say that students are maybe a little more apprehensive about taking risks career-wise. Seeing numerous small and large businesses fall as a result of the lockdown, it could discourage the workforce of tomorrow from adopting an entrepreneurial sense, instead favouring what they may regard as the safer option of employment.
Freelancers have been amongst some of the hardest hit, not receiving the same level of security as those on PAYE employment, which could further discourage students. It does remain to be seen what happens as the months and years pass by but one thing is for certain and that is that the effects of COVID-19 won’t be forgotten in a hurry. The longer the world remains stagnant, the fewer opportunities there will be afforded to students and young professionals looking for their break.