Ah, Year 12. Pressure, excitement, bittersweetness. For what’s already an emotional and defining year, the tornado that is COVID-19 flipped the Class of 2020 upside down.
To find out how career dreams have been affected, Year13’s YouthSense research team surveyed over 2000 year 12 students from metropolitan, regional and rural Australia as part of our Coronavirus & The Class Of 2020 report.
We found 22% wanted to pursue a different career path due to the coronavirus pandemic with many fearing the fragility of their once dream industry forcing them to try something new while others actually found inspiration from it to try something new. Overall though 80% of year 12s said they’re worried that it will be harder to find or maintain a job because of the pandemic.
“In 2019 a career in aviation was one of the safest jobs – pilot shortage, more travellers expected for 2020 – and I thought ‘wow, I may actually be able to achieve my dreams’,” a 17-year-old male from Queensland said.
“However, now this dream of mine has been turned right upside down. I am more likely to now pursue a different degree in teaching or IT.”
More students like him are now having to keep their options open.
“I have always wanted to go straight into a job in the events industry after school and unfortunately that industry is at a complete halt in Melbourne which has affected what I’ll do next year,” an 18-year-old female from Victoria said.
The pandemic has also shown Gen Zs which industries have more support than others.
“Prospects of success in creative industries have become very limited and somewhat discouraged by officials as covid has encouraged solely STEM careers,” an 18-year-old male from Western Australia said.
“This leads me to fear whether this pursuit is actually worth it and question what the future of creative careers holds after the lasting impacts of coronavirus.”
Sports weren’t spared either.
“I’m a professional snowboard athlete and due to coronavirus my career is put on pause as I cannot travel to compete in my competitions or even train,” a 17-year-old female from Victoria said.
“This has been a massive problem as I have known what I wanted to do after school since year 6 but due to COVID all my plans are up in the air.”
As a result of these sorts of pressures 79% of year 12s said that their mental health had been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Because of this students like this 18-year-old from Victoria who wanted to study medicine couldn’t muster up the same motivation to study like they once had.
“I didn’t put as much effort into studying the UCAT as I should have and hence have changed my course preferences for next year,” she said.
“At the beginning of this year I was aiming for an ATAR above 95 but now am just hoping to finish year 12 and don’t care about my score.”
There are thousands of individual stories like these out there. We acknowledge today’s hardships for young people but if history has taught us anything it’s that humans are resilient. One big job now is for us to help Gen Z build confidence in a thriving future.