Prove your humanity

Who knew when they started their degree they would be graduating during one of the largest pandemics in modern human history?

The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought feelings of uncertainty for many as whole industries move into hibernation and news media report sharp drops in employment.

For new graduates, this can be anxiety-inducing. But relax, take a deep belly-breath in, and exhale. Here is your guide from economist and professor Michael Dockery for graduating during a pandemic.


What will happen to graduation ceremonies?

Unsurprisingly, graduation ceremonies like all large gatherings are being postponed. Currently, graduation dates at Curtin for semester 1 2020 have not been finalised.

When graduations are finalised all relevant material will be published here.


So, what exactly is happening to Australia’s Economy?

JP& Morgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon is predicting a bad recession.

But such statements are vague. What does ‘the largest recession since World War 2′ even mean?

A recession is the decline of economic activity caused by a lack of overall spending. In definite terms, for a slump in economic activity to be considered a recession, there must be a decrease in gross domestic product for a period of six months.

As people stay home and retailers and services close their doors to slow the spread of the virus, there has been a reduction in spending across the world. This has resulted in negative economic growth.

Professor Dockery said the effects of the recession will be dependent on how long the lockdown goes for.

This is the reason you have seen Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the news lately, talking about the reserve banks reducing interest rates to a low 0.25% and A$17.6 billion stimulus packages. These are all moves to ensure that the economy sustains itself through the crisis, businesses remain open and people continue spending.

If a recession was to hit, Professor Dockery says that you may not be affected by it.

‘In a typical recession, you might have economic activity falling by 1%. Now if that was evenly distributed and all of us had 1% reduction in our incomes, then that wouldn’t be particularly bad. But the problem is where the reduction happens is particularly concentrated, so a lot of people don’t get affected at all. But there is a smaller proportion of people, for example people whose businesses go broke or people who are unemployed, it has a big effect on that small proportion of people.’

During recessions, the slump in the stock market leads to an increase to the national debts [cue John Howard crying] and a high rate of unemployment and underemployment.


Will this mean there will be no jobs when I graduate at the end of 2020?

For those graduating this year, the thought of entering the workforce during a time when unemployment is rising and the labour market is in a recession is not reassuring.

But should you be worried? Professor Dockery says it depends on what industry you are seeking employment in.

‘Medical areas such as nursing and so on are probably going to be in very high demand’.

Those looking to work in the tourism industry should remain weary as government sanctions cause a reduction in domestic and international flights with QANTAS cutting 20 000 staff of its 30 000 workforces.

According to predictions made by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, the top three industries looking at mass unemployment throughout this pandemic are cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, personal care services and pubs, taverns and bars.

If you’re wanting to become a restaurateur after you graduate, then arguably you will not get the job you want.

Put simply, your prospects are highly dependent on the industry you’re wishing to seek work in.


Well okay, I thought I am not allowed to leave the house, how will I network?

So, is it business as usual?

While it is unlikely that you’ll be attending career fairs anytime soon, this doesn’t mean all your post-graduation prospects have dried up.

For some degrees, you can still attend your placements, and you should, whilst practicing safe social distancing.

Many employers are still holding graduate events, only shifting them online. Be sure to remain in touch with these events.


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