An Unequal Crisis: The impact of the pandemic on the youth labour market

Wilson T, Papoutsaki D |   | IES/Youth Futures Foundation  | Feb 2021

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This report sets out analysis of trends in youth participation in education and employment during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is the first report in a wider project funded by the Blagrave Trust and Youth Futures Foundation, working with the Institute for Public Policy Research to exploring the impacts of the pandemic on the youth labour market and how we can best increase youth participation and minimise social exclusion in the recovery.

The report finds that young people have lost out in particular due to the specific sectoral and occupational effects of this crisis – and in particular impacts in hospitality, care services, leisure and construction.  These employment changes have also translated into significantly different impacts for different groups of young people, with young men, Black and Asian people, and those living in southern England, Scotland and Wales appearing to have so far fared worst in this crisis.

To a large extent, the large falls in employment have been offset by rising participation in education. However, the analysis in this report shows that this too masks significant differences for different groups – with in particular the number of men not in education or employment rising while it is falling for women; and Black and Asian people also seeing falls in overall participation that are greater than those of white people.

Finally, our analysis also finds that young people have been particularly hit by the general slowdown in hiring since last year – with employment falling most for young people at ‘transition’ points in their late teens and early twenties, while remaining broadly stable for those closer to their mid-twenties.

The next stages of this project will look at how we can address these challenges but also ensure that young people can benefit fully from future employment growth and investment – so that those most at risk of longer-term harm from the crisis are able to secure good quality future employment, training and education.