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Young people hit hardest by shutdown

Published: Tuesday 20th October 2020

Recent findings have found that young peoples’ jobs are being hit hardest by the shutdown. Research by the BBC has revealed the under 25’s group has struggled the most with the pandemic. This includes a significant drop in graduate places available. We look at some of the biggest reasons why young people have been hit hardest by the shutdown.

Young people sat waiting for a job interview to highlight young people are being hit hardest by shutdown

First out last in

The under-25’s age group continues to be hardest hit by the shutdown. Half of all working 16-24-year olds were furloughed in the first 3-months of the pandemic. This is in comparison to only a quarter of 45-year olds. One of the biggest reasons for this is that sectors such as retail and hospitality have been affected the most. This is because many of these jobs cannot be performed remotely and are staffed by young people.

This was further highlighted by findings showing young people were the most likely to lose their jobs. Youth unemployment has risen to 13.1% compared to 4.1% for the whole of the country. Furthermore, roughly 7% of 18-24-year olds reported being made redundant because of Covid-19. This is compared with 4% of those aged between 55-65. With furlough set to end soon, many are worried that these numbers are set to increase further.

An alarm clock next to the word 'furlough' to highlight young people are being hit hardest by shutdown.

Northern youths affected the most

Young people in northern England have been hit hardest by the shutdown. This reflects the uneven changes to the economy across the UK. This includes deprived areas seeing a higher rise in people applying for work-related benefits. The BBC analysed universal credit and jobseeker allowance data and found significant increases. Between March and June, the proportion of young people on benefits doubled. The Department of Work and Pensions revealed that parts of Liverpool and Blackpool were worst affected. For example, in the Walton suburb of Liverpool, one in five 16-24-year-olds are claiming universal credit. This is a 7% increase from the start of the year. Nationwide, there are 50 regions with more than 15% of young adults claiming benefits.

Graduate & Apprenticeship programs fall

Another area affected by the pandemic is the graduate sector, with those fresh from university facing a difficult time. Graduate job advertising has fallen roughly 60% in the first half of 2020, compared to an overall 35% fall in job adverts. This has created an increase in competition for graduate places. Figures revealed public sector roles have seen applications double, whilst IT jobs have seen a five-fold increase. This drop in graduate roles has been seen across the entire UK.


Graduates throwing their caps in the air to highlight young people are hit hardest during the shutdown

Companies are also taking on less apprenticeships. Figures show that apprenticeship starts have halved this year compared to last year. However, this drop has not been spread evenly across sectors. Retail and tourism have unsurprisingly been worst hit, with opportunities falling 75% in both. This is in comparison to education apprenticeships which have dropped by a quarter.

What of the future?

Unfortunately, it appears young people in the UK are to suffer for longer. The UK’s financial watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, has predicted unemployment will reach 10% by the end of the year. This is a significant rise from 4.1% last year. Furthermore, it has been predicted that average youth salaries will fall and remain lower for at least two years. It has been predicted that hourly pay for those with degrees will be 8% lower than before the pandemic. This rises to a 13% drop in salaries for those with just GCSEs. The effects on salaries for people in mid and high-skilled jobs is expected to be lower and last longer. However, lower-skilled workers may be a third less likely to be working three years after entering the job market than before the pandemic.

One positive that has appeared for young people is that more are considering higher education. UCAS has revealed that roughly 40% of 18-year-olds applied to university this year, a record high. This follows a similar increase following the 2008 recession, leading to hopes of a better skilled future workforce.

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