Young people ‘permanently disadvantaged’ by pandemic, study suggests

Research by the Co-op found that two out of three young people said competition to get a job has already increased making it feel “impossible” to find work, while almost a third said the pandemic has made them feel less likely to continue with further education.

Children as young as 10 believe the pandemic will change the rest of their lives with two thirds of young people saying they will be permanently disadvantaged, a new study has suggested.

Almost three in five respondents said the government has failed them in its handling of Covid-19.

The survey of more than 5,000 young people aged 10-25-years-old, found that half of school aged children also felt that they had fallen behind in the past year, with almost two thirds feeling pressure to “catch up” quickly.

The Co-op has called on the government to consider appointing a Youth Minister to ensure young people are actively considered in decision making.

Co-op Group chief executive Steve Murrells said: “Young people are the DNA of the future of this country, and we simply cannot have a situation where the majority of them – the Ghosted Generation – feel like they cannot change their path or improve their life chances, and where black and Asian young people are more likely to feel that way.

“This research shows the ambition is there and we see first-hand that talent is spread in every community, but opportunity is not.”

He added: “To make up the lost ground, truly build back better and make sure no young person or community gets left behind, we need urgent bold, joined-up action across government, business and education to make sure young people are actively considered in decision-making, and we believe changes, such as the development of a government youth strategy and introduction of a Youth Minister with cross-departmental responsibility, would better enable the voices and needs of young people to be better heard and met.”

To help address the impacts of the pandemic, young people suggested youth hubs to support their education/training and careers, a Youth Productivity Index to help the government understand where to invest money, and personalised support for those most at risk of long term employment.

Anntoinette Bramble, who chairs the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People’s Board, said: “The pandemic has greatly impacted our young people, whether it be by disruption to education or by the challenges presented from a changing job market.

“However, with a concerted effort, there is no doubt that these challenges can be overcome. Local authorities are best placed to work with government and others to piece together employment and training opportunities, included generating local opportunities for young people through the Kickstart scheme.

“A cross-Whitehall strategy is needed that puts children and young people, particularly those with special educational needs, at the heart of recovery and ensures the services that support children and their families are fully funded so the younger generation can lead more enriched and fulfilling lives as we emerge from the pandemic.”

A government spokesperson said: “We have committed to an ambitious, long-term education recovery plan, investing over £3 billion and significantly expanding our tutoring programme to support children and young people to make up for learning lost during the pandemic.

“We have also put the transformation of skills and further education at the heart of our plans to recover from the pandemic and our Skills Bill. From the expansion of T Levels to more support for businesses to take on apprentices, we are championing technical education and training for young people, helping them to reach their career goals.”

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