The coronavirus has left post-secondary students in a state of economic uncertainty due to job loss, student debt and inexperience in the workplace.
While many young people already struggle with strained incomes and job uncertainty, the pandemic is projected to be particularly difficult to recover from.
Baxter Robinson, an assistant economics professor at Western University, confirmed that young Canadian students are disproportionately affected by the virus.
He explained that decreasing demand from a lengthy pandemic has led to a drop in service sector jobs. This sector is largely staffed by students, who, by the virtue of this struggling sector, are experiencing increased unemployment rates.
Students are also more likely to work part-time and have less seniority, both factors that, according to Robinson, contribute to the termination of younger employees.
“Young people are more likely to be transitioning into the labour force or out of it because they’re likely to be … just leaving education,” said Robinson. “Young people who were in one of those transitions when the pandemic struck are more likely to have difficulty finding a job on the other side of the transition.”
Past economic research shows that students who graduate during a recession have sustained income losses over the decade after they graduate because they have greater difficulty finding jobs.
In order to avoid this effect, Robinson suggested continued education, such as a one-year master's degree.
In terms of combating job and income loss, Robinson acknowledged that there is not much that students can do in the short term besides looking out for government subsidies and income support with wider eligibility.
In the long term, Robinson advised students to complete their education to best equip themselves against economic strain.
”Because the returns to education are really high in Canada, people with undergraduate degrees make substantially more on average than people without undergraduate degrees, and people with grad degrees on average earn much more than people with undergrad degrees.”
According to Robinson, finishing education and taking any jobs within students' chosen fields of study to acquire "skills and knowledge that will be helpful in the labour market" are imperative in combating economic insecurity and avoiding the risks of part-time work.
Students are in for a tumultuous few years, but by actively continuing their educations and seizing career opportunities, they may be able to sidestep the worst of the economic damage caused by the pandemic.