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  • Helen Lockett

How coronavirus has affected young people's career prospects

With the original furlough scheme coming to an end, the employment landscape in general is also changing. Job losses are becoming common, with young people hit hardest of all. Under 25s were the most likely to be furloughed of any age group with half of eligible 16-24s placed on the scheme, compared to one in four 45 year olds. They are also the age group most likely to have lost their jobs or experienced a reduction in income, with 1 in 10 made redundant and the Resolution Foundation warning that a further 600,000 young people could be pushed into unemployment in the coming year.

The problem is compounded by the shifts in young people’s employment over the last decade. IFS’ research has highlighted that young people have been starting their careers in increasingly low-paid roles, and that these roles are often most at risk as bars and restaurants are forced to close, whether completely or due to shorter opening hours. The hospitality, non-food retail and food industries are amongst the hardest hit, meaning fewer opportunities for students to support themselves. There are fewer roles available for both starter jobs and apprenticeships, and increased competition for the more experienced roles that give young people much-needed wage lifts.

So what does this mean for young people planning or just starting their careers? The government campaign suggesting that people in the arts retrain as coders wasn’t well received, and their most recent careers quiz faced criticism for the often irrelevant roles it suggested. We think that this is a time when young people will be in great need of careers advice that recognises the breadth of young people’s interests and the value that they can bring to helping the economy recover. It shouldn’t be a case of trying to fit all young people in a ‘coders’ box, but recognising what their individual skills can bring to the world of work and how they can utilise their skills in this new landscape.

Like the 2008-9 recession, we’re likely to find that young people stay in education for longer if they can, to help shield themselves against the unfavourable job market. Making sure they develop skills that are useful in the workplace during this period will therefore be crucial, to help them gain employment when the economy recovers. It’s also likely that we’ll see the boomerang trend continue, with young people returning to parental homes to survive lowered incomes or redundancies.

The Hub’s kids and youth tracker this year will include a dive into what young people think of their future prospects. If you’re interested in hearing more about what they think the future holds for them and where they feel they can add value, get in touch with Helen ( or Afra (


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