Graduate Market Update

Posted by Alex Tyrrell

A lot has changed since our last newsletter 2 weeks ago, and we wanted to touch base with another Graduate market update for you all based on what we have been seeing in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation in Australia.

Speculation in the Graduate Market

It’s never an easy time to be a graduate searching for your first professional role after graduation, but throw a global pandemic in the mix and the levels of anxiety amongst the graduate job seeker market are through the roof.

We’ve been keeping an eye on the biggest source of hearsay ( in the grad market and there is a huge amount of speculation and rumours floating around about different employer’s current graduate intakes and workforce impacts due to COVID-19 in general.

During challenging times, it is more important than ever to be on the front foot outlining the current organisational view and approach to dealing with the crisis when it comes to recruitment so you can own the narrative. While it is difficult to give absolutes, it is worthwhile to keep front of mind to update your websites where possible on your current approach and if possible, also responding to your graduate program thread on Whirlpool from an official organisational representative account.

Economic Impacts

There are huge economic impacts that have already hit the Australian economy with the unemployment rate skyrocketing as the restrictions on personal mobility impacts across a range of sectors.

There have been massive negative impacts in the following areas:

  • Retail excl Supermarkets/Pharmacies
  • Hospitality
  • Travel & Tourism (Airlines, Hotels and other Tourism operators)

On the flipside the following sectors are in high demand and hence are looking to take on more employees:

  • Healthcare
  • Supermarkets
  • Delivery and Logistics companies
  • Government – departments and agencies working to overcome the Pandemic

The current Pandemic is being labelled a once in 100 year event and compared to the last major economic downturn, the GFC in 2008/09. This is firstly a healthcare crisis that has economic ramifications. Whilst obviously speculation, if we can overcome the healthcare impacts of the pandemic and get the spread of the virus under control, the assumption is that there will be a faster return to health for the economy also.

Globally there are huge government-funded stimulus packages being rolled out to keep the economy ticking along in a state of so-called “hibernation”, with the goal of being able to “wake up” after the healthcare crisis is largely resolved and work to get back to full speed economically.

Should we keep recruiting graduates?


At the risk of trying to predict the future, if we can come out of our current disrupted way of life in the next 3-6 months, this return to normality will be well prior to the start dates of the 2021 graduate programs.

From our discussions out in the market, the majority of recruiters are continuing to push forward with their 2021 intakes, presumably with these timeframes in mind.

For those of us who have been around in the Grad space long enough to remember the GFC impacts, there are many examples of organisations who stepped back from their graduate recruitment efforts which caused many unanticipated longer-term impacts on their organisations. Kelly Pfeffer from GHD has written about this from first-hand experience which you can read here.



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