Under 35s fear COVID-19 will affect their careers

The pandemic’s effect on job prospects and earning potential is causing concern among young people as fears that they will become the ‘lost generation’ grow.

New research from YouGov has found that 56% of under 35s are worried that changes to how they work will affect their professional development.

Among over 45s, the figure was significantly lower at 39%.

Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at the University of Manchester and president of the CIPD, said the findings underline the need for urgent action from businesses to support young people.

Speaking to HR magazine, Cooper said: “It’s crucial that employers do all they can to engage with their younger employees – these are potentially the future leaders of their business, so it’s important they receive rigorous training so that they’re motivated to do well."

Cooper suggested managers try to motivate workers via video calls, rather than email or phone, to help alleviate some worries.

He said: “Being positive and decisive will help to drive those lacking face-to-face contact and who might be feeling anxious.

“Being future-oriented and talking about the business’s plans will reassure them they’re in a steady pair of hands and make their experience of starting out in the working world a positive one.”

Further reading

Younger generation critical to economic recovery

Under 35s face professional confidence crisis

Don’t let the office ‘die’ – for the sake of young professionals

Further research from graduate careers service the Bright Network’s quarterly Talent Tracker, found that the pandemic has had a continued impact on graduate confidence, as 65% said they are not confident about securing a graduate role after university.

The pandemic has also decreased graduate expectations about earning potential by £1,620 since the start of the year, from £27,600 in January to £25,980.

Over half (56%) of those under more pressure were worried about the scarcity of jobs due to cuts at big companies, such as those announced by the Arcadia Group and Sainsbury’s.

More than a third (37%) of graduates also said the pandemic has now changed their thinking about the career paths they’re keen to pursue.

Rachel Credidio, group transformation and people director at non-profit housing association Aster Group, said: “The impact of COVID-19 on jobs has been felt far more acutely by young people than any other group.

“This should be a wake-up call to the business community, who risk losing touch with their younger employees if they don’t do more to proactively engage and support them,” she said.

Credidio also advised companies to be mindful of the changing workplace and its effect on young employees.

“There is no doubt that flexible working is the future,” she said. “But the disconnect it can create makes it even more important that firms do everything they can to stay in regular contact with their employees.

“They must find new and innovative ways of effectively providing the training, mentoring, support and social interaction that is sometimes easier and more natural to deliver in a traditional office environment.”