The Impact of the Pandemic on Youth Unemployment


27th July 2021

Read time

3 minutes

young people together

How has COVID affected young talent?

Young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. While the UK’s current unemployment rate paints a fairly optimistic picture, with just below 5% of UK adults currently out of work, this is masking the true extent of the impact on young people. In fact, youth unemployment rates are three times this figure, currently tracking at just short of 15%. This is a worrying trend.

What’s more, the impact of the pandemic on youth unemployment is only set to worsen when the comes to an end later this year. The scheme has so far been incredibly successful in protecting millions of jobs. However, many employers simply won’t be in a position to bring back their entire workforce when this comes to a close in September. They might still be suffering from the financial impact of the pandemic. Others will have pivoted their business, meaning that they need less employees or employees with different skills than they did 18 months ago.

Plus, with hospitality being both the largest employer of young people in the UK and the industry that has been hardest hit by COVID, concerns are growing that youth unemployment figures are likely to spike further after the protection of furlough is removed.

How can we counter the challenge of youth unemployment?

To tackle this issue, Connectr joined forces with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to launch our Get into Work initiative, designed to support young job seekers into employment. Using our online mentoring platform, the scheme provides young jobseekers with the vital advice, tools and confidence they need to secure a job and succeed in it.

The scheme has already worked in helping many 18 to 24-year-olds across the country secure new roles. In fact, the scheme has been so successful amongst young people that it has recently been expanded, in partnership with Sage, to support diverse entrepreneurs hoping to open their own business.

The UK Government is also aware of the challenge facing young people and has a number of schemes in place to support young talent specifically after the issue of ‘mainstream unemployment’ improves. This includes initiatives such as the Kickstart scheme which provides funding to employers to create new jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

What does the future look like?

It’s undeniable that the impact of COVID-19 on youth unemployment has been significant, with the end of furlough likely to compound this in the coming months. Despite this, we have been heartened to see some positive changes when it comes to addressing the issue over the last few months.

Initiatives such as our Get into Work scheme with the DWP, alongside Government-funded programmes designed to support young people specifically, provide a lifeline for talented young individuals who have suffered as a result of COVID-19.

The pandemic has also been successful in hitting the reset button on the way we work forever. In many ways, this presents a positive opportunity for young people in the long run. For example, the shift to digital and automated ways of working has encouraged many employers to invest in upskilling and retraining their people to perform new roles. At Connectr, we are incredibly proud to be involved in a government-funded scheme aimed at retraining employees whose jobs are at risk of being replaced by AI.

Similarly, the adoption of virtual work and learning has opened up opportunities for young people all over the country who were previously limited by their location.

Whilst the road ahead remains challenging, at least in the short term, we are passionate about working with both businesses and local and national governments to support unemployed young people and harness the huge potential they have to offer. If this continues to be prioritised by all parties, businesses will benefit from the wide range of cultural and commercial advantages that diverse work forces provide.

To read more about how Connectr is supporting young people into work via mentoring, and to find out how your business can get involved, visit our Get into Work initiative page.