Tessa McAuliffe shares how then IFoA’s Careers Team is looking to support graduate careers during the COVID-19 pandemic – and into the future
For many across the globe, 2020 was a year like no other – particularly in education. Students of all ages had to adapt to a whole new way of learning and are entering the workforce at a time of rapid change and uncertainty. Although this can create new opportunities, there is still anxiety among university students about taking the first steps in their careers at this time.
As part of ongoing market research, the IFoA’s Careers Team worked closely with Highfliers Research Limited to understand the challenges currently faced by students and how the Careers Team can best support them during this time.
Education and employment
An area that has seen a significant impact, and caused most concern among students, has been employment – specifically graduate roles. At the top employers surveyed, there has been an cut in graduate roles of approximately 15% due to the pandemic – but an almost 41% increase in applications. There is also a perception that the job market is more competitive, as there is competition from 2020 graduates who were unable to get a role last year.
Unsurprisingly, this uncertainty has led students to turn to their universities for support and guidance, with an increasing number of students considering postgraduate study in place of graduate roles. This trend is seen across most demographics surveyed, with 28% of males, 34% of females and 27% of individuals from an ethnic minority background intending to go on to postgraduate study.
“We will enhance the careers support we offer universities to enable them to reach students more effectively”
University staff have played an essential role in supporting students during this difficult time, and this has not gone unnoticed by students. Overall, universities were perceived as having been reasonably successful in moving careers services online. Most students have also been actively seeking out information about careers and job roles on employer websites, making an employer’s online presence a crucial gateway for students.
IFoA Careers Team
Throughout the pandemic, the IFoA’s Careers Team has been looking at ways to continue reaching as many bright students as possible, at both school and university level, who may be interested in becoming actuaries. As part of our early-careers strategy, we have been working with employers and third parties to improve our Employer Directory and adapt this to a digital-first environment – creating better value for employers and an improved digital experience for young people interested in an actuarial career.
We have also been working with third-party agencies to develop an enhanced digital-first alternative to our flagship Count Me In event. The benefits of creating a digital-first event not only include broadening our reach within the UK, but also the opportunity to open the event to international university students.
We are working closely with university relations teams to strengthen relationships with key university partners. Through this, we will be able to enhance the careers support we offer these universities to enable them to reach students more effectively, both on accredited and non-accredited courses.
We have also implemented the first stage of improvements to our careers webpages based on feedback from university students, making the journey through the pages more straightforward, with clearer information at every stage. We have also commissioned various blogs, quizzes and other content to provide new, interesting ways to engage young people. We continue to work with UCAS and other third parties to reach as many maths students as possible with this content. The next stage will focus on making the pages more visually appealing and improving the existing content.
Tessa McAuliffe is early careers marketing manager at the IFoA
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