COVID-19 reduced the job prospects and well-being of engineering graduates — most are still satisfied with their studies
According to the survey, the employment situation of engineering and architecture graduates was only slightly worse in 2020 compared with 2019. At the time of graduation, 67% were employed and 74% of the employed had a permanent job. The employment situation deteriorated towards the end of 2020 and lay-offs caused by COVID-19 also affected recent graduates.
Education Specialist Sari Leinonen, who coordinated the study at Tampere University, says she is pleased that the effects of COVID-19 were not as striking as had been anticipated.
“Numerous students graduated last year and most of them were satisfied with their studies. Their job prospects were not entirely ruined, either. For many, working while studying meant that they were also able to continue to work after graduation,” Leinonen says.
Of those whose studies had been delayed, 10% cited COVID-19 as a reason. At Tampere University, the corresponding figure was 5%. For the most of these graduates, the delay was due to working along studying. COVID-19 had a moderate impact on delayed graduation or writing the final thesis (23% / 26%).
“In the survey, COVID-19 was reflected to some extent in students’ difficulty of finding jobs where they could work on their thesis. As comes to finding employment, there is a clear trend towards more entrepreneurship of many kinds, which may be influenced by the assumption that employers now prefer to buy work rather than hire employees,” Leinonen estimates.
Even though most students made progress in their studies despite COVID-19, the pandemic has had a negative impact on their well-being.
“Thirty-five percent of recent graduates reported that COVID-19 affected their well-being,” confirms TEK’s Analyst Arttu Piri.
Leinonen believes that the effects of COVID-19 on social well-being are the most evident among new students. Due to the restrictions, young students lose a unique coming of age experience because many study-related events are cancelled and studying together is limited.
“In addition to studying, engineering students’ hobbies and associations also play a huge role. I am sure the pandemic causes feelings of missing out,” Leinonen points out.
Well-being and teaching are developed with students
In many respects, the restrictions necessitated by COVID-19 accelerated the development of learning methods and educational practices. Efforts have been made to make things run smoothly, without counting the hours.
“We must remember that the entire higher education community has had to adapt to the changes, and everyone has worked hard. The well-being of the whole community is important,” says Leinonen.
The staff and students of the Tampere Universities community have co-operated to improve well-being and have acted swiftly to develop support measures together with the student unions.
“We have carried out well-being surveys and rolled out special well-being programmes, such as Navigator, and the Tresilienssi project which has just begun and is run by TAMK. We provide pedagogical support for teachers, and hybrid teaching is also being considered from several angles. However, Covid19 has also challenged the student health services. For example, there is quite a long queue to see the study psychologists,” Leinonen says.
Tampere University’s engineering and architecture graduates actively participated in the survey with as many as 78% of them responding. Tampere graduates accounted for almost a third (28%) of the combined survey responses.
The results of the TEK Graduate Survey 2020 were published in the Future-Proof Engineering Education 2021 webinar, which focused on well-being and the impact of COVID-19 on education.
In 2020, approximately 25,000 Finnish university students studied in Bachelor of Engineering, Master of Engineering or Master of Architecture programmes and around 3,000 of them graduated. Of these graduates, 79% (2,366) responded to the TEK Graduate Survey last October. Read more about Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland (TEK).