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‘Wild’ experience: Year 12s come of age in pandemic, recession

“A new period of remote learning sees a new sense of uncertainty and anxiety for the future. Will I cope with remote learning? How will the future look for us?”

Students and schools learnt on Friday that every VCE student would be assessed for special consideration due to the distress and disruption caused by COVID-19.

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Santa Maria College student Anika Luna didn’t struggle with the first round of remote learning, because it provided fewer distractions than friends in a classroom. COVID-19 hasn’t changed her plans to study media and communications, or stopped her volunteering at a student radio station.

But Anika felt a rollercoaster of emotions about the return of remote learning, including grief about missing out on typical year 12 milestones and enjoying her final year at school with friends.

“I’m well aware that the GAT [general assessment test], end-of-year exams, receiving our ATARs and the university entry process will all look a little different for us,” she said.

“This year has been wild to say the least, but I am a firm believer in the idea that when approaching any challenging situation with an open mind and through the lens of creativity, success is inevitable.”

Once they finish school, the class of 2020 are expected to flock to universities and further study to avoid a weak jobs market.

With poor wages, little savings and investments, and low levels of full-time work, young people are particularly vulnerable in this coronavirus recession, according to latest Productivity Commission findings.

In addition, young people are likely to experience higher taxes during their working life to recover the cost of dealing with the pandemic, the commission said.

The GFC, Australia’s last downturn from mid 2007 and early 2009, provides some guide to cohorts entering the workforce at the wrong time.

In the decade after the GFC, young people had more difficulty getting jobs in the occupations they aspired to, the commission said. And if they started in a less attractive occupation, it was even harder than before 2008 to climb the occupation ladder.

“This suggests that poor initial opportunities could have serious long-term consequences,” it said.

Georgia said she understood why Victoria was in lockdown and expressed hope year 12s would succeed.

“Online schooling is hard but the health and safety of others is [the] priority,” she said. “Yes, this will be difficult for all but we got through remote learning the first time, we adapted, and we can do it again.”

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