Just 16pc of graduates hunting since March for their first job have managed to land a role, according to a survey by recruitment firm Walters People Ireland.
And 70pc of graduates have blamed the pandemic for delaying their entry to the workforce.
The survey of 1,500 graduates also found that just 6pc of them have used their downtime to upskill in areas outside their degree choice.
The survey also found that in 2019, a third of Irish third-level students had found a jobs before the end of their course or training. By comparison, just a quarter of graduates in 2020 so far have done so.
“In terms of crisis or uncertainty, companies tend to hire experience over potential – which is why the junior end of the jobs market has been so badly hit,” according to Sarah Owen, director of Walters People Ireland.
But she insisted that firms will miss out on fresh ideas, digital know-how and innovation by temporality shunning graduates.
“Typically, start-ups and fast-growing SME’s have been quick to hire talented junior professionals who illustrate potential to grow with the business,” said Ms Owen. “However, with some of the smaller companies hit the hardest, and training and development budgets temporarily frozen, there are less opportunities for those looking to get their first step on the ladder.”
The recruitment said the pandemic has spurred a 67pc increase in the number of job interviews by video, and a 40pc increase in the use of online testing platforms. It said the number of job offers made remotely during lockdown tripled compared to the average before the lockdown.