4 Nov 2020

Unemployment rate rises: Daunting job-hunting fate for some university students

6:40 pm on 4 November 2020

By Nadia Amaral

Tertiary students face a daunting prospect of finding stable jobs amid the changing nature of employment due to the pandemic.

Magnifying glass over Jobs section of newspaper classifieds

Photo: 123rf

A Stats NZ report released today showed the unemployment rate rose to 5.3 percent in the September 2020 quarter.

Up 1.3 percent, the global pandemic has had a widespread effect on the labour market, leading to the biggest quarterly increase on record.

Almost 10 percent of the 20- to 24-year-old age group are unemployed, while the figure was at 19.5 percent for those aged 15-19.

Student Job Search chief executive Suzanne Boyd said while job listing numbers had dropped significantly during lockdown, they were slowly climbing their way back up.

"We had a significant drop from January and February. We had around two-and-a-half thousand employers listing jobs with us. It dropped down to around 200 in April and climbed its way back to about 800 in May," Boyd said.

"The great news is that in October this year, we're at nearly two-and-a-half thousand which is just a fraction below the same month last year. So, job listings are coming back," she said.

"It dropped again in June, July and August, it took a little time to come back, particularly in August, but the number of employers that are listing jobs has climbed back."

Boyd said there had been a change in the type of jobs listed.

"The number of permanent jobs for us has been climbing over the years, but during this time we're finding employers are much more likely to be looking for casual workers as opposed to permanent.

"There's a definite shift of employers moving away from permanent full-time and part-time roles into casual while they're just not sure."

AUT student Meoghan Craig, who is in her final year of studying radio, said her field was already a small one and the impact of Covid-19 meant more uncertainty.

"The likelihood of me getting a job in the coming year, or anytime from now essentially, is going to be very, very difficult, if not impossible," she said.

Stats NZ says there are 37,000 more unemployed during the quarter, the biggest increase since 1986.

AUT student Gabriella Salazar is considering a post-graduate course if she cannot find a full-time job before she graduates next year.

"I feel like I'm only thinking about post-grad because it's the safer option," she said.

Salazar currently relies on her part-time office job to keep her afloat.

"At this moment, I feel like we're somewhat a little useless and not a lot of people need us."

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