Youth unemployment 'could reach 600,000 this year due to coronavirus'

6 May 2020, 00:13

600,000 young people could be unemployed due to coronavirus
600,000 young people could be unemployed due to coronavirus. Picture: Getty

By Maddie Goodfellow

Youth unemployment could soar by 600,000 this year because of the coronavirus crisis, a report has warned.

The Resolution Foundation said young people's prospects could be "scarred" for years, causing long-term damage to their pay and job prospects.

The think tank said "major new support" was needed to help 18 to 24-year-olds through the economic crisis.

Research from previous recessions suggested that young people who have just left full-time education are hit harder than other age groups, said the report.

The foundation called on policymakers to help young people spend an extra six months in education.

The employment rates of graduates entering the labour market during this crisis are projected to be 13% lower in three years' time than they would have been, and rates for mid- and low-skilled workers risk falling even further - 27% and 37% respectively, said the report.

It could lead to 1 million young people being unemployed
It could lead to 1 million young people being unemployed. Picture: PA

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Kathleen Henehan, research and policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: "The 800,000 young people set to leave education this year amid an unprecedented economic crisis are facing huge immediate unemployment risks, and longer-term damage to their careers.

"The 'corona class of 2020' could face years of reduced pay and limited job prospects, long after the current economic storm has passed, unless the Government provides additional support - and fast.

"A new maintenance support scheme could help thousands stay in education and build up their skills, while those entering the labour market for the first time should be supported by a job guarantee offering critical employment experience."

Alex Beer, of the Nuffield Foundation, which funded the research, said: "The effects of the Covid-19 crisis are exacerbating existing inequalities.

"It is important that the Government, higher education providers and employers act now to limit the long-term effects of the economic downturn by creating opportunities for those entering work and training and supporting those who choose to stay in education."

The government said it want to make sure there are options for young people leaving education
The government said it want to make sure there are options for young people leaving education. Picture: PA

In a separate report, the Association of Colleges predicted that half of the new labour market entrants - around 100,000 16 to 25-year-olds - will struggle to find meaningful employment as the economic shocks of Covid-19 continue to be felt.

There are likely to be fewer jobs and apprenticeships for this year's school and college leavers, it said.

The association also warned of major challenges in re-starting education and training after months of lockdown.

A Government spokesman said: "We are doing everything we can to protect our economy and make sure there are options for young people leaving education.

"Alongside our £330bn package of support for business, we've launched a targeted employment campaign and a new online Skills Toolkit, helping to keep people learning and building their skills."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Young people mustn't see their futures disappear in the coronavirus crisis. That's why the TUC is calling for a jobs guarantee for young people, offering six months real work with training paid at at least the living wage."