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Career planning and workforce preparation during economic downturn: perceptions of graduating business students

Kelly Benati (Monash Business School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)
Sophie Lindsay (St Mary’s University, London, UK)
Jacqueline O'Toole (Monash Business School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)
Juan Fischer (Centre for Research in Assessment and Digital Learning, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 28 February 2023

Issue publication date: 10 May 2023




To gather insight into how graduating business students are preparing for the workplace and their future careers and how this has been impacted by COVID-19.


In total, 144 business students at an Australian university who had recently completed an internship and were nearing graduation took part in the study. Group A was surveyed before COVID-19 had emerged and Group B undertook their internships during a COVID-19 lockdown when the related economic downturn had become apparent. The responses were analysed using career construction theory (CCT).


This study concludes that graduating students do not generally place greater emphasis on career planning in times of economic downturn. However, they do devote more effort to job search and networking activities. They also display more career decisiveness and are less willing to seek out information about potential careers or their suitability for them. Their confidence in embarking on a career was not impacted.

Research limitations/implications

This enables us to form a more complete picture of how graduating students perceive their work-readiness and the action they feel is important in order to improve their employability.

Practical implications

This has implications for career practitioners and employers of graduates as it adds to the knowledge of employability and the decision-making process in times of economic crisis and is particularly important for the tertiary education sector as it seeks to better target initiatives to aid employability in graduates.


The results increase the understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on early career development and argue that early-career decision-making is a specific area requiring investigation.



Benati, K., Lindsay, S., O'Toole, J. and Fischer, J. (2023), "Career planning and workforce preparation during economic downturn: perceptions of graduating business students", Education + Training, Vol. 65 No. 3, pp. 403-415.



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