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COVID-19: Student Impact

If you’ve just gone back to school or college this September, there’s probably one thing on your mind: what is going on? How much is Coronavirus going to affect you? Leaving school is a tricky time for everybody, even without a global pandemic. But what if you haven’t even got that far yet? If you’re about to start your GCSEs or your A-Levels, I’m going to try and clear some things up for you.

I won’t lie to you and say I know exactly what’s going to happen in 12 month’s time- at this point, nobody can say for certain what’s going to happen next week! The good news is that the world is only going to get better at handling COVID-19. This means that whether you’re leaving school in 2021 or 2025, there is more time for you than there was for the Class of 2020: your future’s will be handled better. So while things may be different, there’s no need to panic. Here’s what we know so far:

At the moment, the upcoming academic year is going ahead. A lot of universities are going for a contact-free method of learning (e.g. online classes) to keep students away from campus and out of crowded lecture halls. With Boris Johnson’s announcement on last Tuesday (22nd September), it’s becoming quite likely this will be the norm for the entire year, not just the first term.

Freshers week is going to look a lot different. For as long as the next 6 months, pubs and bars will be required to close at 10pm and it’s possible they could be re-closed again completely. Many towns with large student populations have already gone into a local lockdown, so universities will want to avoid this by limiting social mixing and implementing more track and trace measures. So, overall, it’s really a case of this years’ intake missing out so the students of freshers yet to come can have a semblance of a ‘normal’ freshers. Although, as it stands at the moment, Freshers 2021 is looking unlikely as well.

Bottom line: if you want to go to uni within the next few years, expect socially-distanced events, online learning and absolutely no clubbing under any circumstances. The good news though is that you won’t have to get out of bed for a 9am lecture.

Apprenticeships, like universities, are still going ahead this September, which is great news because it means next year’s apprenticeships are also likely to go ahead. For both apprenticeships and vocational courses that require you to go into college, social distancing will obviously be in place, but more than likely it will be online. Every training provider will need to fill in a risk assessment before opening their doors to staff and students, which will also include assessing your ability to socially-distance in all areas of the building.

As it stands at the moment, as an apprentice you are an employee. This means that if you have coronavirus symptoms or you need to self-isolate for related reasons, you will be paid in line with your contract agreement. In such uncertain times, it’s critical you are familiar with your contract and what you are entitled to.

If you’re unsure about what apprenticeship you’d like to do, check out https://www.allaboutschoolleavers.co.uk for some more in-depth information.

We are currently in a recession, which means our economy has shrunk for two consecutive quarters (2x 3 month periods). It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that recession=unemployment, but this doesn’t have to be true. Full disclosure: there’s less money about, so less companies will be hiring, but there’s still loads of opportunities out there for you. I’d recommend fine tuning your CV now and undertaking work experience where possible to boost your applications (a lot of places are now offering online internships!)

If you don’t know where to start, talk to your careers advisor at school. There are also loads of great websites to turn to:

https://www.e4s.co.uk

https://www.allaboutschoolleavers.co.uk

https://www.youthemployment.org.uk

So, there’s what we know so far. Nothing particularly shocking. My main advice would be to think ahead. It’s daunting to think about the future, but unfortunately you’re not about to enter the best version of the adult world. Do yourself a favour and make a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C and possibly even a Plan D. You might not need them, but you’ll be happy to have them there.

But it’s not all doom and gloom: The opportunities are still out there. Regardless of what you want to do in the future, you will still be able to do it, it’ll just be a bit different. Don’t worry too much over it.

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COVID-19: Student Impact

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