Generation Covid in need of more educational support

The coronavirus pandemic has reportedly had the biggest impact on young people, especially those from a deprived background, as their education and job prospects have been largely affected.

Under 25s have been named ‘Generation Covid’ due to cuts to their earnings, education and job prospects, leading to fears for the long-term impact on the futures.

BBC Panorama found that people aged 16-to-25 were more than twice as likely as older workers to have lost their job, while six in 10 saw their earnings fall.

Jonathan Smith, chief executive at logistics firm APC Overnight told HR magazine: “Whilst this year has understandably proved challenging for many, it’s critical that wherever possible, businesses consider the longer-term opportunities they can make available.

“Recruiting young people is key not just to businesses, but also to communities; without employment opportunities the young can’t contribute to their local areas and are ultimately forced to go elsewhere for employment.

“This could create real problems for future recruitment and talent acquisition,” said Smith.

Panorama’s research also highlighted the impact that school closures have had on young people, and how students from poorer backgrounds have received far less education than those from more privileged families.

Further reading:

Number of young people not in education, employment or training falls

Coronavirus job crisis impacting young workers' mental health

Government pressed to consider coronavirus’ long-term impact on employee health

Hot topic: Pandemic interventions for employers from the UK government, part two

The COVID generation social mobility test: how to level up an even more unequal playing field created by the pandemic study, by the London School of Economics (LSE) said a quarter of pupils had no schooling or tutoring during lockdown.

However, nearly three quarters of private school pupils had full days of teaching (74%) - almost twice the proportion of state school pupils (38%).

According to The Telegraph, still only six in 10 pupils are getting a full education despite schools being open.

Professor Lee Eliot Major, co-author of the LSE report and expert in social mobility at Exeter University, told The Telegraph: “The point is that these learning losses have been sustained over a much longer period than we first thought.

“This suggests we need to keep schools open, redouble our efforts to make sure they remain open and they get all the support they can get.”

Fewer students have enrolled onto apprenticeships during the pandemic too. despite the government’s introduction of the Kickstart Scheme.

There were 58,160 apprenticeship starts reported between 23 March and 31 July, fewer than the 107,750 reported for this period at this point last year, according to the latest government guidance.

Association of Employment and Learning Providers managing director Jane Hickie commented: “We are sadly hearing of more apprentices becoming unemployed especially in sectors like hospitality.”

To help create new opportunities on the programme, Hicki suggested ministers replicate the Kickstart Scheme and start subsidising the wages of new young apprentices.

“They also need to do more to protect the jobs of tens of thousands of existing apprentices who can’t complete their programmes right now because of bureaucracy preventing them from being properly assessed while the Covid restrictions remain,” she said.

Corina Forman, HR director at APC Overnight, said that employers and their people teams ultimately have a responsibility to ensure that the younger generation doesn’t get overlooked because of the pandemic.

She told HR magazine: “We firmly believe that investing in young people pays dividends in the long term. People who 'grow up' with the company tend to identify strongly with our values and they develop secure social networks - these factors combine to support great service delivery.

“Across the business we have a strong track record of recruiting and training young people across all areas of our operations. Several of our senior managers were recruited straight from college and were supported to undertake professional qualifications and forge successful careers with the company.

“To maintain this tradition APC Overnight invests heavily in the next generation.”