Completing your tertiary education often comes with its own challenges, and when the pandemic hit, we all felt for students who had their curriculum impacted and their education disrupted. Opportunities for placement on graduate programmes, internships as well as general employment opportunities were also negatively affected. Understandably, this in turn profoundly impacted on the mental health and well-being of youth. In research conducted by the University of California, Berkeley highlighted the increased prevalence of anxiety, depression, and stress among young adults during this period. The study points to the uncertainty surrounding job prospects, social isolation, and financial concerns as key contributors to the decline in mental well-being.

We, at JP, adopted a retrospective view of a sample of candidates that undertook assessments for placement on a graduate programme for a Pan-African Financial Services organisation over the last 5 years and found the following areas of interest:

  • Although not low, the overall stress management composite on the EQ measure seems to have dropped in the 2023 cohort versus the 2019 cohort.
  • Comfort in embracing change and taking on new challenges seemed to decline throughout the pandemic years.
  • The 2023 cohort appears to trust data more than intuition. They also seem to have a lower impetus in acting independently, but a stronger focus on doing the right thing.

While there may be other causal or correlatory factors to bear in mind when looking at these findings, it does pose some important questions for leaders to consider:

  1. While these Graduates had the tenacity to persevere through the challenges of Covid – how can we best support them when moving into the workplace?
  2. They may thrive with more certainty and structure. Are you defining expectations for your Young Talent to provide them with purpose?

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