Vulnerabilities made visible

COVID-19 pandemic major impact on graduates university of applied sciences

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a great impact on the lives of young hbo graduates. This is evident from a longitudinal study by the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA), which examined the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of young graduates from the university of applied sciences (hbo) at three points in time. The study shows that the specific vulnerabilities of young adults during the pandemic became readily apparent. In particular, the long lockdown in the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021 significantly disrupted the work and personal lives of many students.

Impact on work

At the beginning of the pandemic, the main fear was of massive job losses. This, thanks in part to the support measures, was limited. However, the biggest challenge was mainly in the practical problems that the pandemic brought with it in carrying out work, and in the associated stress. Sometimes, as with hbo graduates working in education, health care, and the arts, the workload in particular was a major source of stress. However, the disrupted work-life balance and uncertainty about the future were also experienced by many as stressful. Yet the new challenges also generated a great deal of creativity and innovation in finding solutions to the problems.

Consequences for private life

This crisis has also left deep marks in the private lives of many people. Due to the restrictive government measures that were introduced, many people's lives were relatively cut off from the outside world for long periods of time. This sometimes led to a reduction in the sense of belonging to family, friends and society as a whole. Hbo graduates with few social contacts also often experienced increased stress in the home environment. Graduates with a migration background, who were less able to fall back on a social safety net, were thus more likely to experience stress, especially in their work.

Lessons for the future

Whereas the COVID-19 pandemic was primarily an acute health crisis for the elderly and primarily an acute economic crisis for older adults, for young adults it challenged their entire lives and future prospects. Especially young artists and hbo graduates with a migration background have often had a hard time in both their private and working lives. Attention is needed to the social isolation into which many young people have fallen, or into which they might fall back in the event of a new upsurge. Furthermore, it is obvious that young people need to be made aware of how important they are to the future of our country. The strong creative ability with which many young graduates have responded to difficult situations in coronation time could be mobilized and utilized more by employers. This creativity, as well as the unique perspective of young adults who have endured the pandemic at such a crucial stage of life, could also be put to good use in evaluations of corona policies, and in planning for possible new calamities in the future.

About the research

ROA conducted surveys of young adults who completed a hbo education in the past 5 years at various stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. These young graduates are in a crucial period of their lives, starting their social and community careers. The report focuses on three facets: the economic situation, personal perception, and the expected impact of the pandemic on the graduates' subsequent lives and careers.

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