Pandemic hits education and job prospects of young people

More than one in 10 people aged 16–25 have lost their job, and just under six in 10 have seen their earnings fall since the coronavirus pandemic began, new research shows.

The study found young workers to be twice as likely to have lost their jobs compared with older employees. It also found that employment and earnings losses are more pronounced for women, the self-employed and those who grew up in a poor family.

The survey, carried out by academics from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Exeter University, provides further evidence that young people are suffering substantial and sustained losses, not only to their employment, but also their education.

The new report, called ‘Generation COVID and Social Mobility: Evidence and Policy’, found that just four in 10 school pupils received full-time schooling during April, with a quarter receiving no teaching at all. In early October only around six in 10 pupils were experiencing full-time teaching.

During April, nearly three quarters (74%) of private school pupils were benefitting from full school days – nearly twice the proportion of state school pupils (38%).

The survey also highlights inequalities in higher education. University students from the lowest income backgrounds lost 52% of their normal teaching hours as a result of lockdown, but those from the highest income groups suffered a smaller loss of 40%.

A total of 63% of the university students who took part in the study said their wellbeing has been affected by the pandemic, 62% said their long-term plans have been affected, and 68% said they believed their future educational achievement will be affected by coronavirus.

The initial findings come from a survey of around 10,000 people taken during September and October 2020. Overall, 5.4% of people who took part in the research said they had lost their job, a further 7.3% reported that they were still in work, but working zero hours meaning 12.7% were workless. There was a higher rate of worklessness for those aged 16 to 25 (18.3%) than for those aged 26 to 65 (11.9%).

Professor Stephen Machin, director of the CEP and report co-author, said: “These are very significant hits to the labour market for young adults in particular. There is a real concern that people who have lost their jobs are moving onto trajectories heading to long-term unemployment, the costs of which are substantial.”

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