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Research Reveals Young People Feel Unprepared for the Workforce and Fear Being Left Behind

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Research launched today from Clearview Research of over 1,000 young people aged 16–25 years old across England, examining the impact of COVID-19 on their lives. The majority of young people feel ill-prepared for the world of work when they leave full-time education and do not have the right guidance, support or opportunities available to help them on their career paths.

Commissioned by The Blagrave Trust, co-produced with Leaders Unlocked, and led by a group of young researchers, the report identified one of the greatest concerns for young people is getting any job in this current climate so that they can gain work experience and earn enough to cover their basic needs.  However, 41% of young people say that getting access to work experience is one of the main barriers to them being able to pursue their chosen career path.

In addition, the study revealed that worryingly, 39% of young people with casual contracts or zero-hour contract jobs have been placed on furlough or lost their job due to COVID19. This has contributed to their dread about being ‘pushed to the bottom of the food chain’ whilst being stuck in a cycle of ‘no experience, no job – no job, no experience’. 

Overall, almost a third (32%) of young people rank ‘work experience opportunities’ as the number one support opportunity that would be useful to them right now. Young people spoke about the difficulty of getting a job without work experience but how work experience opportunities are hard to come by.

This is only one of many key challenges that young people are facing due to COVID19; 41% have studied from home, 27% have missed exams, and 27% are working from home. This dramatic change to education and the workplace happened overnight, with young people receiving little or no support to adapt to this change. As a result, the majority of young people say they are not very confident about working from home (55%).

Not only is the pandemic affecting young people’s work prospects, but it’s also taking a toll on their mental health too, with 35% of young people experiencing mental health issues as a result of the impact of COVID19. This figure significantly increases among young people who have experienced sexual discrimination, either due to gender, or sexual orientation, who are more likely to experience mental health issues due to COVID19, with figures at 54% and 70% respectively. Moreover, young women are 1.5 times more likely to have experienced mental health issues due to COVID19 (43%) compared to men (28%) and young people who identify as disabled are almost three times more likely to have mental health issues due to COVID19 (73%). Regionally, the study revealed a large disparity with young people living in Yorkshire, Humber and East Midlands, as results show that they are more likely to experience mental health issues due to COVID-19 at more than 50% compared to England’s 35% average.

‘If we are genuinely going to improve employment and prospects for young people during and after the COVID-19 crisis we need to start by working with young people directly to empower them to give voice to their experiences and aspirations. Development of an information hub that shares information with young people about all the opportunities available to them, life skills training and more mental health support are among some of the recommendations we saw our young people suggest and we hope to see these begin to take place in the coming new year.’ says Dr Niamh McGarry, Research Director, ClearView Research.

‘Being part of this research has been amazing because it made me feel as though I was able to have an impact in a time when change is needed more than ever. It’s great to feel like your voice and the voice of young people has the potential to be heard as we start to rebuild for the better,’ said Lauren Roberts Turner, Leaders Unlocked Peer Researcher & YE2030 Advocate.

‘I would like to see people value the struggles and contributions of young people more and address the systemic issues that this research and the pandemic have highlighted. Most importantly I want people to seize the opportunity to work for inclusive and empowering change for young people.’ she continued.

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