The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly impacted every corner of the UK employment market with unemployment at 4.8% and redundancies hitting a record high of 314,000 in September 2020. Recent data collected from the IES Analysis of Labour Force Survey shows that the youth employment bracket (18-24 years old) have been the worst impacted by redundancy and unemployment being more than twice as likely to have lost their job than those in higher age brackets.
So why have 18-24-year olds been hit so hard?
The main contributing factor seems to be that many of the 18-24 UK work force work within the hospitality sector. The inability to work from home in the hospitality sector forced much of this disproportionately young workforce into furlough. As much of the UK hospitality and retail industry remains shut down due to lockdown and tier restrictions for the foreseeable there is little light at the end of the tunnel. This uncertainty is forcing many businesses to either close -down permanently or make staff redundant to reduce overheads.
Despite hospitality undoubtedly being the main contributor to the fall in youth employment, it cannot be overlooked that this age group have suffered the worst across all industries. Are there other factors at play why 18-24 years are the least likely to find new employment and the first to be made redundant?
For young people looking for employment fresh from education the figures do not look good, the Department of Education states that apprenticeships offered between March and June 2020 have halved with those under 19 looking for apprenticeships taking the hardest hit. With these falling figures young people are now opting to stay in education rather than entering high competition for fewer available apprenticeships with UCAS reporting a record high of 40.5% of 18 year olds applying for university in June. Those looking for work fresh from university also face a harsh outlook with a reduction in vacancies and increased competition, with CV Library reporting a 60.3% fall in post-graduate roles in the first half of 2020 and competition for the roles almost doubling in many cases.
There is still the question of why 18-24 year olds seem to be at the front of the queue when it comes to redundancies across all sectors? In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review Emma Waldman discussed the issue of ‘reverse ageism’ and the discrimination younger employees face from their older peers. In the article Waldman discusses her own experiences of ageism within the workplace and how her research showed this is a common trend. Waldman highlights the issues of older and more experienced employees and managers dismissing younger employees as being unable to undertake difficult tasks, not having valuable opinions and dismissing their feedback in general. Are younger employees not valued as highly as their older counterparts? and could this be an underline reason for the younger workforce seeing a disproportionate response across all sectors during the pandemic? It is difficult to say what the definite reasoning is behind the culling of the 18-24 workforce and what the long -term effects will be both to the economy and to the mental health and wellbeing of generation Z.
Although things look uncertain for youth employment in the coming months, and even years, there are some positive steps being taken to improve the situation. One of these is the Government Kickstart Scheme. The initiative is aimed at creating new jobs by providing funding to businesses to employ 16-24 year olds currently in receipt of Universal Credit. Employers from SME’s to large corporates can apply for funding to cover 100% of the national minimum wage for a role of up to 25hrs per week with start dates up to the end of December 2021. With the government stating that 19,000 jobs have been created so far as of November it looks to be off to a positive start.
SearchDATA Group are currently signed up the scheme and are looking to improve the situation of several 16-24 year olds through employment and training.
If you want to know more about Kickstart and the available opportunities here at SearchDATA group head over to https://pathwaygroup.co.uk/kickstart-jobs/