A better future: Transforming jobs and skills for young people post-pandemic

Williams J, Alexander K, Wilson T, Newton B, McNeil C, Jung C |   | IES/IPPR | Oct 2021

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Generational progress in the UK is grinding to a halt. Those in their 20s and 30s today have incomes no higher than the previous generation at the same age and are worse off once housing costs are considered. The wage gap between older and younger workers has widened since the 2008 financial crisis and shows no signs of closing.

This report sets out the findings from a project commissioned and grant funded by Youth Futures Foundation and the Blagrave Trust. The research, carried out by IES and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), explored the impact of the pandemic on young people, the prospects for future employment growth and how youth employment and participation can be increased.

The outlook is uncertain, with young people over-represented in jobs in sectors that are expected to see lower employment growth in the long term, and vital ‘stepping stone’ mid-skill jobs are in decline. So, as we emerge from the pandemic, we must consider not simply what the impact of the pandemic has been on young people since early in 2020, but how well equipped they now are to face the future.

Young people we spoke to as part of this research overwhelmingly want what previous generations wanted from work: secure, full-time jobs with decent pay (at the real living wage) near where they live. They also want to work with like-minded people, in jobs and companies they believe in and that are well matched to their skills and capabilities. If required, and with the right support, they are willing to change career direction. Nonetheless, they perceive that a lack of local jobs and inequalities in local areas could hold them back from achieving their aspirations.