“The pandemic is inflicting multiple shocks on young people. It is not only destroying their jobs and employment prospects, but also disrupting their education and training …”
G.Ryder, ILO Director-General.
The problem I want to highlight is that COVID has disproportionately exacerbated youth unemployment, by the closure of businesses in hospitality, leisure and retail, reducing the number of opportunities available to gain employment. As well as the loss of income and career prospects for the youth of today, it has reduced the opportunities for gaining vocational skills and expertise needed to enter employment in the future.
Currently, the number of UK 16–24-year-olds un-employed stands at 596,400 (14.5%). Unemployment has risen by 123,616 this year (ONS). It is vital that the youth is not left behind in the economic recovery of the UK. Youth Employment UK states that they “would like to see meaningful and quality education, employment and training opportunities for all young people…”
The number of jobs has significantly reduced mainly due to the lockdown restrictions enforced on businesses and subsequent resizing or closure of many of them. This has had the effect of reducing part time /temporary job opportunities available, the focus being on keeping existing staff employed often in full time roles. This unequally impacts young people and the Government needs to consider systems to support the youth into 1st time full time employment (or re-employment post redundancy).
This issue is important to address as high youth unemployment causes many issues: low incomes, reliance on state support, lack of skills and experience, social and health issues. On a greater scale, the UK will struggle to repay its economic debt unless this is tackled, as the COVID debit repayment burden and subsequent social impacts will be placed on the younger generations for years to come.