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Pandemic ‘shows importance of university career services’


Policymakers urged to support student employability services or risk “lost generation” of graduates

The Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of universities’ career support services and the need for policymakers to provide backing for them, according to the Coimbra Group of multidisciplinary European universities.

“The crisis highlighted the unique and important role of career services in being the connector between employers, students and academia during this difficult time,” wrote Shelagh Green, director for careers and employability at the University of Edinburgh, and other co-authors of a report published by the Coimbra Group on 30 March.

During the pandemic, students sought career support more frequently, Green and her co-authors said. While students “despaired” about their career prospects as companies shuttered whole areas of activity, support offices have “more than ever…provided inclusive services, and ensured help for those students whose areas of work were particularly impacted”, they wrote.

Career services facilitated new means of meeting, for instance through online employer presentations open to multiple universities, said Green and her co-authors, who formed a working group on the issue. They said many such offices also had to contend with problems of their own, with some facing “largely disrupted” income flows even as they adapted their services to work online.

The co-authors urged policymakers to support such university-based services, warning that students could otherwise face potentially dire consequences.

“EU policymakers should support employment, employability and career services within universities in order to avoid a scenario in which the Covid-19 graduates become a lost generation in the labour market,” they wrote.