A portion of those who left school a few years ago are feeling let down, uninspired and without hope for their future. Their career plans were already fragile before the pandemic hit—since the virus made its appearance, apprenticeships have been cancelled, companies promising work have gone out of business, and training opportunities have all but disappeared.
With so many people of all ages being made redundant, there is huge competition for most roles, even those that wouldn’t have been quite as in demand before the pandemic.
A bakery in York received 800 applications for 8 jobs they’d created after expanding their business. And a restaurant in Manchester advertising a receptionist role saw 1,000 people send in their credentials to be considered for the position.
The lack of jobs for young people is not only affecting their income and seen more of them on Universal Credit (13.4%), it has also affected their aspirations. According to research carried out by Censuswide, 41% of people aged 16-25 years believe their future goals are now ‘impossible to achieve’. Just under half of those taking part in the survey feel that they’re destined to only ever have a job they tolerate and not one they love.
Youngsters working towards a career in the arts, hospitality or leisure industries have seen the devastation the pandemic has brought. Whilst some plan to take temporary work in another industry until things recover, others are completely rethinking their career plans. It may take years for these sectors to recover; in the interim, the fragility of jobs and an unreliable income won’t help young people wishing to own their home or pay off a student debt.
The Prince’s Trust’s chief executive, Jonathan Townsend, warns that youngsters today could become ‘a lost generation’ if nothing is done.
Whilst the practicalities of earning an income is significant, so is the mental health of young people today. A YouGov poll recently showed that a third of respondents admitted to feeling lonely, stressed and worried about the future. With social distancing regulations clamping down again, and with no workplace or training centre to attend for human interaction, isolation is something many young people are having to deal with.
How can we ensure our young people have a future?
The government’s Kickstarter scheme is one initiative that aims to get 18-24-year-olds into work and off benefits. With the government paying their wages for a 25-hour week over six months, young people on the scheme can look forward to on-the-job training, soft skills coaching and support to create a C.V. that’s attractive to employers.
A similar announcement was made more recently, that adults without A-Levels could access a college course for free. The government has pledged billions of pounds to the National Skills Fund, to give adults further training so that they might access higher-paid jobs.
The instilling of some skills should be easier and more accessible, given how the population has adapted to online training and Zoom meetings, etc. Digital training companies and various technologies have come into their own during lockdown. Many educational bodies have been forced to reassess the way they teach, and e-learning is seen as a viable solution when face-to-face can’t be practised.
It’s a bleak time for people of all ages at the moment, and we’re still going through it. The uncertainty in the job market may last for years to come. Creating opportunities that will increase people’s skill levels and enrich their work experience as ride out the worst sounds like an effective way to fill the time.
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