Without a doubt, the pandemic has affected our lives in various ways. It has caused most of us to stay indoors, transition from face-to-face to work-from-home set-ups, and find other means of income in order to ensure that we are safe and healthy. The news reports on the virus’ progress with reminders on how to protect ourselves in our day to day activities. Although this is significant information there’s another important discussion that needs attention and that is how the pandemic has affected the goals and aspirations of college students who are graduating. Given the current situation of the world, it is important to discuss the situation of the youth today, the paths that they can take after they graduate, and the ways in which they can be assisted.
Current Situation of the Youth
According to the statistics of the Commission on Higher Education, as of October 2020, there were 718,880 graduates who completed their bachelor’s degree. Despite having this number of graduates, the reported unemployment rate last October 2020 was 8.7%, with college graduates taking up 24.0% of the unemployed. Along with the threat to their health, uncertainty is another enemy that college graduates are facing during the pandemic (Cepeda, 2020).
The spread of the virus has not only prevented college graduates from receiving their diploma onstage and having a grand celebration but has also caused them to rethink their future plans and hopes for employment. Their transition into adulthood has also been interrupted because the lockdown means that they can no longer engage in youth-related and social activities (Cleofas, 2020). According to Cleofas (2020), the “new normal” can affect the psycho-emotional development of the youth as it interferes with social functions, leisure events, and causes the youth to have an unclear vision of their future.
Moreover, the mandatory lockdown can also cause fatigue among college students. Labrague and Ballad (2020), state that college students are experiencing moderate levels of fatigue which is manifested through exhaustion, headaches, body pain, decreased motivation, and increased worry. Clearly, the pandemic can significantly impact the mental health and well-being of the youth and it is for this reason that it is important for this topic to be discussed and addressed. It is important for the youth to be informed about possible opportunities they can take after they graduate and how they can take care of their well-being in the process.
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Paths the Youth Can Take
Despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic, the youth still try to find ways to get by after graduation and one of these ways is job hunting. In an article by Cepeda (2020), several young adults were interviewed about their experience of applying for a job. Two of the interviewees said that they can’t recall how many companies they’ve applied to.
They relayed that it has been hard to keep track with the status of their applications because mostly the responses are just computer-generated. In addition to this, the present state of businesses also makes it difficult for them to respond to applications leaving applicants to keep looking for other companies. In the same article by Cepeda (2020), another two interviewees shared that although they were able to get a response and schedule an interview, they ended up being disappointed. This is because they were told that the company they applied for preferred experienced workers as opposed to fresh graduates as fresh graduates would be difficult to train virtually. These experiences have caused feelings of guilt and regret in the youth. Not being able to find a job has made them feel like a burden to their family and has also caused them to look back and wish that they had done things differently before the pandemic. In spite of this, the youth perseveres and keeps up the hope that things will get better as the years go by.
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Another path the youth can take after graduation is volunteering. In 2020, Constantino listed different organizations where anyone, even the youth, can lend a hand. One of these is the youth-led movement called Bantay Bayan which is a citizen-watchdog and legal assistance program where volunteers monitor and report the responses and actions of all local government units in the Philippines. The goal of this movement is to make sure that the government does not use the pandemic as an excuse to commit corruption.
Aside from Bantay Bayan, another organization, the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM) is doing its part in making sure that all citizens are properly informed about the pandemic. Their goal is to make any information on COVID-19 accessible for every Filipino by translating any infographic posters containing COVID-19 updates from English to various Filipino languages. The youth can volunteer in these organizations and any other movements but it is also important for them to know that lending a hand can be done even in the smallest ways. Whether it’s through supporting online businesses or creating online content to connect with other people; the youth can make a huge difference when they decide to step up.
Current Initiatives Given the state of the youth today, there are also initiatives created by the government and private companies to uplift the youth. Rodriguez (2020), states that Emilio Paz who is the Country Program Manager of Plan International Philippines recommended that the government include youth economic empowermentin conducting COVID-19 response operations.
Moreover, last July 27, 2021 the Asian Development Bank approved a $400 million policy-based loan to support the Philippine government’s efforts in expanding youth employment and skills programs to assist the youth in finding quality jobs (Asian Development Bank, 2021). Aside from assistance from the government and the private sectors, the youth should not forget that they themselves can also provide upliftment to their fellow youth. Edren Illiano, a youth leader says; “my message for the youth is share your God-given gifts. No one will start the progressive change but you” (World Vision, 2021). Whether it’s through job-hunting or volunteering their time, it is important now more than ever that the youth are involved and helping each other get through these difficult times.
About the Author: Jillian Navarrete is an undergraduate intern at In Touch. She studies Bachelor of Science in Psychology at De La Salle University Manila. After graduating, she aims to become a registered psychometrician and after that, work towards a masters degree in order to become a registered psychologist. In her spare time she likes to read fiction novels and watch movies & tv shows.