Youth job prospects in post-pandemic world

July 1, 2021

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Angela Mascolo explores the impact of Covid-19 on young people’s career opportunities and what working from home entails for new workers

‘Lockdown generation’ is a term coined by the United Nations and International Labour Organisation for the current cohort of young people who face permanent exclusion from the job market. This highlights the bleak reality facing younger generations trying to find work as we emerge from lockdown.

Some predictions expect the economic impact of the crisis on unemployment to last for at least five years. Even after the economy has recovered, Resolution Foundation (a living standards think tank) highlight that those leaving education this year are still likely to face reduced pay and employment prospects.

Key statistics show that:

  • Just before Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, workers aged below 25 were more likely than others to be employed in sectors that have been shut down as part of the first UK lockdown and that they are more likely to have lost their jobs since then.
  • In the four weeks after March 16th, there were 1.4 million new applications for Universal Credit. The number of 18 to 24-years-olds claiming unemployment-related benefits increased by 59% compared with the previous month.
  • Three in five organisations have stopped apprenticeships due to Covid-19 and a third of apprentices have less than one in five chance of completing their programmes.
  • For those able to find work, pay is expected to be 7% lower two years on from leaving education following a recession.
[authquote text=”For many young people starting new jobs, working from home has impacted how they integrate into their workplace’s culture”]

With a challenging post-lockdown job market, it’s not surprising that 58% of students are not confident in finding work after graduating. What’s more, research by the London School of Economics highlights that increased unemployment creates significant anxiety among those whose who retain their jobs.

Compounding the economic impact of Covid-19 on young people, a survey by UK Youth (a national charity offering youth services) has also identified that young people are experiencing increased mental ill-health and wellbeing issues, increased loneliness and isolation, lack of safe spaces (for example, not being able to access youth clubs/services or lack of space at home), and challenging family relationships.

Young people in a job have also shed light on the realities of working from home. There have undoubtedly been some benefits to this, with people expressing how working from home has given them more time to carry out domestic tasks, exercise and be with family. This could potentially lead to more flexible working patterns in a post-Covid world.

However, for many young people starting new jobs, working from home has impacted how they integrate into their workplace’s culture. A 2014 LinkedIn survey found that 18 to 24-year-olds are more likely than older generations to say that having friends in the workplace impacts them positively.

A friend of mine, who recently started an internship as a Technical Accountant Assistant, is not allowed to go into the office every day. She highlights that she hasn’t been able to meet new colleagues and this has affected how she has been able to integrate into the company’s culture.

Networking is an important aspect of a first job, and the first month of a new job is crucial for establishing a relationship with colleagues. The changes to work life brought about by the pandemic can therefore affect new workers for months and even years.

We need to ensure we actively voice our concerns to show decision-makers the importance of addressing young people’s needs

These issues point to what Hannes Schwandt (Assistant Professor at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy) highlighted for Business Insider: that remote working is much better for established workers than those new to the job, most of whom are younger people.

It’s clear that young people’s voices need to be at the centre of decision-making around Covid-19. Indeed, I had to dig deeper to find out how the post-lockdown job market will impact young people’s work prospects, as this isn’t at the forefront of public discourse surrounding the pandemic.

As young people, we need to ensure we actively voice our concerns (for example, by sharing information, campaigning, connecting with other young people and generating creative online content) to show decision-makers the importance of addressing our needs in these unprecedented times and creating opportunities for our concerns to be addressed.

Check out these links for more information and support:
Business in the Community report on Covid-19 and youth unemployment
Youth Employment Group
Movement to Work on Covid-19
Youth Employment UK
Prince’s Trust Coronavirus Support Hub
University of Nottingham Covid-19 articles
Advice to international students
The financial impact of COVID-19 on young people
50 key study abroad statistics & facts to know in 2022

Angela graduated from Royal Holloway with a first-class degree, where she studied History. She is a recipient of the Jack Petchey Community Award.