Young job seekers entering the workforce are facing a new challenge after the COVID-19 pandemic made a severe impact on their education and life. Prior to COVID, college students were able to have the normal college experience of going to packed lecture halls excited to learn, socializing, and making connections, while simultaneously pursing sports and extracurriculars. This was all compromised in March 2020 when classes were moved fully online, lessening the experience of college and the knowledge that comes with it. The transition back to normal has slowly begun, allowing students to have a somewhat normal college experience with in-person classes and other opportunities beginning to take place.
The job market took a hit during this pandemic, with millions of jobs being lost and an unemployment rate of 5.8% (May 2021). Clean energy jobs were especially affected during the pandemic, with over 307,000 lost over the past year. These market impacts have made it increasingly difficult for young college graduates to find a full-time job.
The chart below illustrates the severity of this pandemic’s impact:
The red line with the most significant dip shows how drastic this recession was in comparison to other recessions that have greatly impacted the job market. In addition to having difficulty finding a job to even apply for, once the candidate gets their application in, the entire process takes place online. First impressions and people skills can make or break an interview, and it is incredibly difficult to communicate those skills in an online setting.
Lindsey Castin, a recent University of Maryland Graduate in Information Systems, began her interviews for a full-time position in September of 2020. “Every interview round was fully remote via zoom, and the position was expected to start online,” she said. Castin pursued a career in the consulting industry, where she was recently hired at Accenture. “Luckily, the position will now be in-person and I will be able to work in the office,” she said.
On a positive note, clean energy jobs have grown by 11% nationally since May, which is higher than the 9% rate of growth of the national workforce in May. This sector now only employs 3 million Americans, about .019% of the population. If you are a job seeker who shares a passion for sustainability, now is the perfect time to get involved, as clean energy is a growing industry and the way of the future.
While the job market in general is making it increasingly difficult for college grads to find employment, those who find jobs are not entirely satisfied. Working remotely has not created the same real-world experience that graduates expected, as they are still stuck at home. Luckily, there is a light at the end of the tunnel as the world is beginning to return to a state of normalcy, including jobs being in person.
While getting a job out of college during 2020 seemed close to impossible, it is now doable, yet there is still difficulty. As America and the entire world begin to recover from the last year, Congress continues to predict a strong rebound in 2021 partly due to President Joseph R. Biden’s American Jobs Plan which includes “tackling climate change with American jobs and American ingenuity”. This will create 1-1.2 million energy efficiency jobs per year. With the amount of clean energy jobs being created, Americans will begin to rejoin the workforce and make a positive impact on the world.
Monique Mann is MCEC’s Communications & Marketing Intern. She is currently studying at the University of Maryland, College Park, pursuing an undergraduate degree with a major in Marketing and a minor in Sustainability. After graduation, she hopes to continue working in the clean energy sector with hopes of expanding and improving clean energy operations.