Consequences of COVID-19 on Education and Work of Young Adults: An Expert and Peer Interview Study in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland of Their Perspectives on the Past, Present and Future
1.1. State of Research
1.1.1. Perception of Distance Learning and the Impact of School Closures on Adolescents
1.1.2. The Impact of School Closures on Students at Risk
1.1.3. The Effect of the COVID-19 on Transitions of Young Adults
1.1.4. How Adolescents Dealt with the Political Measures
1.1.5. Young Adults’ Coping Strategies with the Pandemic
2. Design of the Study
2.1. Research Questions
- Transition: how did COVID-19 impact the transition (e.g., financial circumstances, working during COVID-19, graduating during COVID-19, preparing for future school and vocational qualifications) of young adults (17- to 20-years old); what led to these consequences; how did they change from spring 2020 till spring 2021; and what differences can be seen between the three countries?
- School: how did COVID-19 impact the educational lives (e.g., structuring their learning, motivating themselves, interacting with peers, parents and teachers) of young adults (17- to 20-years old); what led to the these consequences; how did they change from spring 2020 till spring 2021; and what differences can be seen between the three countries?
- Coping: how did young adults (17- to 20-years old) cope with the perceived impact of the COVID-19 pandemic from spring 2020 till spring 2021 on their lives (e.g., school, transition, free-time, friends, partners, family, personality)?
2.2. Theoretical Framework
2.2.1. Development during Adolescence
2.2.2. Required Abilities to Develop
2.2.3. Function of School and Factors to Access Educational Paths
2.2.4. Coping Strategies during Crises
2.4. Data Collection
2.5. Data Analysis
3.1. Transition or Work
3.3. Coping Strategies
4.3. Coping Strategies
4.4. Derived Theses
- The development of independence or indifference through distance education: Young adults became more independent or more indifferent during distance learning due to a lack of commitment through reduction or partial elimination of structures and the processes of action coordinated by the school.
- Time/cost efficiency or more learning difficulties in distance education: Young adults were able to save time/costs due to the elimination of commuting time/costs or experienced aggravated working due to a disrupted learning atmosphere at home.
- Distance learning improvement by adapting methodological instructional design to student feedback: Methodological distance learning design was adapted to student* feedback, which improved overall distance learning over time.
- The lack of variety favors loss of motivation: The lack of variety due to measure-related limited leisure activities favors a large, school-related loss of motivation among students caused by the perceived omnipresence of school in everyday life.
- The prospective fear of entering university and spontaneous decisions in choosing a course of study due to a lack of preparatory offers: Limited preparatory offerings for career and/or school transitions in young adults’ lives contribute to prospective entry anxiety, spontaneous decisions, and/or opting for a financially secure plan among young adults.
- Longer-term worthlessness of baccalaureate/baccalaureate degrees due to momentary stigmatization: The momentary stigmatization of baccalaureate/baccalaureate degrees as inferior could lead to longer-term stigmatization of Generation C degrees by society.
- Friendship dissolution due to lack of joint graduation opportunities and abrupt disengagement: The lack of graduation activities at school encourages more friendships to dissolve, since young adults cannot celebrate their graduation together and there is an abrupt disengagement from one another due to divergent further educational paths.
- Digital format as a help or additional inhibition for withdrawn persons: For withdrawn persons, a digital online format can be of benefit for finding contact and/or be perceived as an additional inhibition threshold leading to non-use.
- Confrontive coping may be chosen mainly by adolescents for whom the COVID-19 measures brought about a strong change in lifestyle (hobbies, partying, meeting lots of friends).
- Distancing may be chosen mainly by adolescents who have a medium or low tolerance for ambiguity, when they have little interest in politics, and/or the restrictions have not had a major impact on their lives (withdrawn individuals).
- Self-controlling may be chosen mainly by withdrawn/introverted individuals and/or those with a high tolerance for ambiguity.
- Seeking social support may be used mainly when an adolescent is in the environment of a trusted person who is close to them (family, friends, parenthood).
- Accepting responsibility may be used mainly when there is a strong external appeal to accept responsibility.
- Escape–avoidance may be used mainly when there is boredom and can lead to uncontrolled addictive behavior if the person has low resilience.
- Planful problem-solving may be used mainly when a crisis is prolonged and/or personal gains (e.g., more free time) result from the strategies used.
- Positive reappraisal may be applied mainly by adolescents who have high self-reflection.
4.6. Further Research
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Person||Country||Gender||Age||Current Educational/Vocational Circumstances||Interview Conducted by|
|I1||Germany||Male||19||High school graduate||Researcher|
|I2||Switzerland||Female||19||Specialized secondary school graduate||Researcher|
|I3||Austria||Male||17||High school student||Researcher|
|I4||Switzerland||Female||20||University student (2nd year)||Researcher|
|I5||Austria||Female||19||High school graduate||Researcher|
|I6||Austria||Female||19||High school student||Researcher|
|I7||Switzerland||Female||18||High school graduate||Researcher|
|I8||Austria||Female||18||High school graduate||Researcher|
|I9||Switzerland||Male||20||University student (1st year)||Researcher|
|I10||Austria||Female||18||High school graduate||Researcher|
|I11||Germany||Male||20||University student (1st year)||Researcher|
|I12||Germany||Female||20||University student (1st year)||Multiplier (adolescent)|
|I13||Germany||Male||19||University student (1st year)||Multiplier (adolescent)|
|I14||Germany||Female||20||High school graduate||Multiplier (adolescent)|
|I15||Switzerland||Female||19||University student (1st year)||Multiplier (adolescent)|
|I16||Switzerland||Female||20||Early school leaver||Multiplier (adolescent)|
|I17||Switzerland||Male||18||Apprentice (2nd year)||Multiplier (adolescent)|
|I18||Austria||Male||17||High school student||Multiplier (adolescent)|
|I19||Austria||Female||17||High school student||Multiplier (adolescent)|
|I20||Austria||Male||17||High school student||Multiplier (adolescent)|
|I21||Austria||Male||17||High school student||Multiplier (adolescent)|
|I22||Austria||Female||17||High school student||Multiplier (adolescent)|
|I23||Germany||Male||19||Early school leaver||Multiplier (adolescent)|
|Category||Definition||Anchor Example||Coding Rule|
|Confrontive coping||“What I’ve also heard from friends, that there is still a party scene in Berlin—techno parties. There are twenty people meeting each other somewhere and are celebrating and listening to techno.” (I1, 329–332)|
|Distancing||“Politically, I haven’t informed myself at all. That just doesn’t pique my interest.” (I7, 487–488)|
|Self-controlling||“I have them around me 24 h a day, every day of the week. That gets annoying at some point. I like my family; there are no problems at all, but at some point, it’s too much. Either I have to escape, or I have to say ‘please now let me alone for 2 h. I don’t want to see you. Go away!’” (I8, 551–554)|
|Seeking social support||“during the pandemic, we often talked about our despair and realized that others feel the same. We could therefore comfort each other.” (I10, Abs. 678–681)|
|Accepting responsibility||“A few students have said they really don’t want to go out; they don’t want to do anything, as they have parents belonging to the risk group.” (I7, 104–106)|
|Escape-Avoidance||“Then I noticed that I often mixed myself a cocktail during the week, simply in the evening. Even when I was alone, because I said to myself, ‘I’m bored; I’ll just try a new cocktail and maybe I’ll like it, and if not, I’ll drink it anyway because I’m at home anyway; I don’t have to go anywhere.’” (I8, 263–277)|
|Planful problem-solving||“I could immediately start making summaries of topics I received via E-Mail rather than taking notes at school. This is why I was way more efficient.” (I7, Abs. 119–121)|
|Positive reappraisal||“I also focused on other things—on myself. And I had time to think about many other things as well like ‘What do I want? Who am I? What do I tolerate?’” (I6, 192–193)|
|Joyless Graduation||Uncertainty with Resulting Impulsiveness|
|(1) “The baccalaureate trip will not take place, just like our semester-end party. And that was a very hard setback for us; we were all really looking forward to it. If I lose that now, no one will bring it back to me. You can’t recreate a time like that together. I’m panic-stricken that we’ll all lose each other a bit after graduation.” (I5, 207–208)||(2) “A lot of people now just say, ‘I’m just going to start something that I’m still kind of interested in, even though I don’t know exactly what I want to be when I grow up.’” (I7, 286–288)|
|Individual Level||Lesson Level||Teacher Level|
|(1) “I don’t know a single person who says that distance learning is fun for me or something I want to do. Not a single one. And that’s alarming.” (I1, 185–187)||(2) “You just miss your classmates when something funny happens (I7, 329–331)||(3) “We always received e-mails every day on different platforms.” (I7, 72–73)|
|Coping Strategy||Exemplary Quote|
|Confrontive coping||(1) “I can’t really explain it myself, and I have to admit quite honestly that most of the time, when I read about it or think about it for too long, I get pretty aggressive or pretty annoyed because I just think that the behavior of the politicians was totally irresponsible and just not enough” (I1, 429–432) |
(2) “What I’ve also heard from friends, that there is still a party scene in Berlin—techno parties. There are twenty people meeting each other somewhere and are celebrating and listening to techno.” (I1, 329–332)
|Distancing||(3) “Politically, I haven’t informed myself at all. That just doesn’t pique my interest.” (I7, 487–488) |
(4) “But I also have to say honestly, I don’t miss it that much because I’m generally someone who hasn’t often met friends before.” (I4, 205–206)
|Self-controlling||(5) “I have them around me 24 h a day, every day of the week. That gets annoying at some point. I like my family; there are no problems at all, but at some point, it’s too much. Either I have to escape, or I have to say ‘please now let me alone for 2 h. I don’t want to see you. Go away!’” (I8, 551–554) |
(6) “There was insecurity in how to act around each other in terms of ‘Do the others behave the same way?’, ‘Am I really not the only one who wears a mask?’, because that was so unfamiliar. ‘Am I not the only one who doesn’t shake hands with them?’ Like insecurity in how to behave around other people, definitely.” (I10, 611–614)
(7) “So I didn’t think, ‘Alain [politician], what are you talking about?’; I think it makes sense.” (I2, 350–351)
|Seeking social support||(8) “A lot of people got together due to COVID-19 or broke up but then looked for a new partner. I also think that, at the moment, a lot of people are just happy to have a ‘Corona-buddy.’ (I11, 215–217)|
|Accepting responsibility||(9) “A few students have said they really don’t want to go out; they don’t want to do anything, as they have parents belonging to the risk group.” (I7, 104–106)|
|Escape–avoidance||(10) “Then I noticed that I often mixed myself a cocktail during the week, simply in the evening. Even when I was alone, because I said to myself, ‘I’m bored; I’ll just try a new cocktail and maybe I’ll like it, and if not, I’ll drink it anyway because I’m at home anyway; I don’t have to go anywhere.’” (I8, 263–277)|
|Planful problem-solving||(11) “Some subjects I could just completely put aside, for example English, because I can do that. I just had to read a book or something.” (I7, 51–53)|
|Positive reappraisal||(12) “I also focused on other things—on myself. And I had time to think about many other things as well like ‘What do I want? Who am I? What do I tolerate?’” (I6, 192–193)|
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Egger, M.; Huber, S.G. Consequences of COVID-19 on Education and Work of Young Adults: An Expert and Peer Interview Study in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland of Their Perspectives on the Past, Present and Future. Youth 2022, 2, 610-632. https://doi.org/10.3390/youth2040043
Egger M, Huber SG. Consequences of COVID-19 on Education and Work of Young Adults: An Expert and Peer Interview Study in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland of Their Perspectives on the Past, Present and Future. Youth. 2022; 2(4):610-632. https://doi.org/10.3390/youth2040043Chicago/Turabian Style
Egger, Manuela, and Stephan Gerhard Huber. 2022. "Consequences of COVID-19 on Education and Work of Young Adults: An Expert and Peer Interview Study in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland of Their Perspectives on the Past, Present and Future" Youth 2, no. 4: 610-632. https://doi.org/10.3390/youth2040043