Tuesday 23 March 2021 9:49 am

UK unemployment: Covid impact on young people ‘could last a lifetime’

The disproportionate impact of the pandemic on young people’s job prospects “could last a lifetime”, according to analysts.

Unemployment data released this morning by the Office for National Statistics showed that under-25s make up two thirds of the 700,000 job losses since the start of the pandemic.

Lorna Carter-Blake, managing director at DA Training and Consultancy, said it was “sadly no surprise” to see young people hit the hardest.

“In times of economic uncertainty, it doesn’t help that young people are often the last to be hired and the first to be let go.

“When the outlook is uncertain, companies often gravitate towards experience over youth. The impact of the pandemic on young people today could last for many years, if not a lifetime.”

‘Urgent support’ needed

The UK unemployment rate fell slightly to five per cent from November 2020 to January 2021, some 1.1 percentage points higher than the same period last year.

Estimates for that time found 32.37 million people aged 16 or over were in employment, 611,000 fewer than a year earlier.

Sam Windett, director of policy at Impetus, said that young people need urgent support.

“Amid this youth unemployment crisis, the prime minister must deliver the opportunity guarantee he promised in June for every young person. 

“Young people must get the help they need to move into education, training or work and, if they are out of work for over six months, they should be guaranteed a job or training place.”

Hospitality sector wounded

The annual fall was the sharpest since summer 2009 and was mainly driven by men, of which around 438,000 fewer were employed.

There was also an annual decrease of 173,000 for women – the largest in nearly three decades.

Over half of those effected worked in the hospitality sector, while almost a third of job losses were in London.

Cautious optimism

Struggling jobseekers are pinning their hopes on getting work in the hospitality sectors as vacancies start to appear amid hopes of reopening.

Interest in bar and waitressing jobs has grown by 98 per cent and 60 per cent respectively in the past two weeks, according to careers site Indeed.

Meanwhile, postings for beauty and wellness roles have increased by 39 per cent since 22 February 2021.

Jack Kennedy, UK economist at Indeed, said young people can be optimistic despite the damning unemployment figures.

“Roadmaps out of lockdown and the success of the vaccine rollout are building optimism that the labour market will bounce back, as the release of lockdown unleashes pent-up demand for jobs in the hardest-hit sectors, including beauty, gyms, retail and hospitality.”