Emma May
Emma May

Jewish students face an uphill employment struggle – but the doors will open 

A pre-pandemic career networking evening at Work Avenue in Finchley (Via Jewish News)
A pre-pandemic career networking evening at Work Avenue in Finchley (Via Jewish News)

It’s not easy being a Jewish student on campus right now. Not only have our young people lost so much of their university experience to this pandemic, but they are returning to a rise in antisemitic incidents coupled with the stress of exam season: a potent cocktail. 

And at the end of it all? Not even the guarantee of a good job. 

There is not only a lack of opportunities for graduates in the jobs market right now, but when they enter it our students will face more competition than ever before. 

Stories of hundreds of young people applying for every job, even entry level ones, abound. A recent survey by Prospects on the effects of COVID-19 on recruitment found that almost two thirds of those leaving university felt negatively about their career prospects. 

Even though the pandemic is hopefully almost behind us, there still remains a dip in the number of vacancies currently being advertised year on year. It’s fallen by around a quarter since 2020, which in itself was down on the year before. 

For those Jewish students who are religious, there can be added complications, such as explaining to potential employers why they cannot work or be reached on a Saturday. 

But there is good news. The economy is starting to recover with some rosy forecasts ahead. And we are blessed by talented recent graduates in our community, now in good careers, who can help guide those aiming to follow in their footsteps. 

At Work Avenue we have just run Graduate Careers Month. The idea behind it was for our Jewish students to come and hear, learn and network with young professionals in their chosen industries. Recent recruits came from all sectors to share their experiences and advice on how to get ahead. Those who we had previously helped had now become the helpers.

For us old fogies there wasn’t much to do – except sit back, listen, learn and be inspired. And we learnt so much.

A key tip for our future graduates is to keep an open mind and be engaged to all possibilities. Many in our community who were not offered the role they had initially hoped for, accepted what seemed like a second-rate option at the time – only to find that it absolutely become the right choice for them in the end. Great opportunities are always just around the corner.

Today’s students will also need to make lots of applications, always follow through and never give up hope. The right opportunity will always make itself known! 

The most important thing is the knowledge that even when the situation seems hopeless another door will always open. 

The key is to make it the right door… and turn the key. 

About the Author
Emma May is the Interim CEO of Work Avenue. She has a background in HR management, psychometric assessment, outplacement and careers guidance and has held roles in the public, private and not for profit sectors. 
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