University graduates could not have anticipated so bleak a job market as that brought on by the coronavirus and protests when they began their final academic year. Unemployment in Hong Kong is now at 5.2 per cent, a 10-year high, with all sectors of the economy having suffered badly. Experts say the number of vacancies for the anticipated 20,000 to 30,000 new degree holders has more than halved and the average salary has been cut by as much as one-fifth. There are bound to be many cursing their luck, questioning the worth of going to college and wondering if their sights were on the right career choice. Anxiety is a usual part of entering the job market for the first time, but the prospect of a long stretch of unemployment is stressful, even traumatic. Disappointment is more commonplace this year, though, as application letters get ignored or rejected and even internships and training positions are difficult to come by. Help our young find jobs or city will pay Company profits have been hard hit and expansion plans replaced by cost-cutting. The recruitment website JobsDB says there were only about 20,000 vacancies for graduates between January and April, 55 per cent less than for the same period in 2019. Fresh graduates have been forced to lower their expectations in recent years by a fast-changing job market. Research in 2018 showed that one in six had to settle for unskilled work. Increasingly, the economy does not produce enough jobs that require a college degree, automation is making some work redundant and the sector in greatest need is technology and innovation. Jobs growth has tended to be in lower-paying occupations. It takes time for mindsets and the education system to adjust. Graduates should not be blinkered into believing their prospects rest only with Hong Kong; while the jobs outlook for now looks bleak the world over, there will be a recovery and China’s economy is gradually opening up and efforts are under way to push forward development of the Greater Bay Area. Parents need to be understanding and not put undue pressure on their sons and daughters. Family bonds and friends are crucial at times of crisis. This is a time for networking, working together and cooperating – and to be alert and watchful and prepared to help those facing challenges.