45% of Asia-Pacific undergrads, fresh grads rethinking career paths due to Covid-19: Poll

Respondents across the 15 markets surveyed ranked finance as 1 of the top 5 most valuable majors for finding a career.
Respondents across the 15 markets surveyed ranked finance as 1 of the top 5 most valuable majors for finding a career.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Nearly half (45 per cent) of current university students and recent graduates in the Asia-Pacific surveyed by the CFA Institute said they are reassessing their career paths in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Their top concerns include feeling underqualified for the job they want (24 per cent); low pay in their preferred sector (23 per cent); wage reductions as a result of the pandemic (22 per cent) and lack of jobs in their preferred sector (22 per cent).

The survey which took in the responses of more than 15,000 recipients from 15 markets - including Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, India and Japan - also found that 46 per cent of respondents in Asia-Pacific said their perceptions on career prospects, desires and expectations have changed since the pandemic's onset.

A further 41 per cent said they have had to reassess the sector they want to join after the pandemic.

In Singapore, 22 per cent of respondents identified lack of jobs causing them to abandon their preferred sector as their biggest fear when it comes to their career prospects. The second biggest fear among respondents (21 per cent) was the sense of being underqualified for the job they want.

More than 4 in 5 (83 per cent) have identified upskilling and professional/post-graduate qualifications as important in the current job market. Slightly less than half are taking active measures - 38 per cent said they plan to prolong their time in education while the job market is still volatile.

"As more students and recent graduates choose to further their studies, the pandemic may end up yielding a more highly skilled workforce," said Mr Nick Pollard, Asia-Pacific managing director at CFA Institute.

"To meet this demand, higher education and credentialling institutions need to ensure their offerings can help graduates enhance their professional skills and boost their job prospects," he said.

Globally, 58 per cent of respondents said they still feel confident about their future career prospects in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Respondents across all 15 markets ranked finance as 1 of the top 5 most valuable majors for finding a career. Overall, graduates felt that medicine/science was the most stable and attractive, followed by healthcare and education.

A majority of graduates said they believe their future career will be as good or better than their parents' generation despite the pandemic. Findings showed that those studying accounting and finance were particularly confident, with 80 per cent believing their prospects are as good as or better than their parents' generation, compared with 75 per cent of respondents overall.

"Graduating and starting a career amid the Covid-19 pandemic requires a mindset shift to be workforce-ready," said Mr Pollard.

"While some graduates don't feel prepared or willing to jump into the job market where it's currently at, others, ironically, are going to be better suited to the new normal of hybrid workplaces, video conferencing, remote working and flexible hours.

"With a job market that will likely remain somewhat distorted for the foreseeable future, it is clear there is value in developing skill sets that are adaptable, flexible and ready to pivot at any time."