Long-term unemployment during pandemic threatens lives of young people, warn experts Business News

The future of thousands of young people is at risk of being permanently damaged by the pandemic unless the government does more to tackle an alarming rise in long-term unemployment, experts have warned.

While a mass unemployment crisis has been averted in large part thanks to the leave scheme, the number of young people unemployed for six months or more has peaked in 10 years.

Youth workers have warned that by placing too much emphasis on the overall unemployment rate, which has remained lower than what many predicted earlier in the pandemic, it means that some of the most vulnerable groups are being ignored.

Young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Over 200,000 have now been unemployed for six months or more; many lost their jobs in the first weeks of the pandemic or left education and could not find jobs.

Even before the pandemic, one in eight people between the ages of 16 and 24 was not in school, employed or in training (Neet). Of these, more than half were classified as economically inactive, meaning that they do not have a job and are not looking for work.

“Many of these people are young caregivers, long-term ill, have disabilities or have multiple disadvantages,” said Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies.

“The government literally did nothing for these people.”

Wilson praised the Kickstart program which offers grants to employers who hire young people for six months of work and training.

However, it largely helped people who had only been unemployed for a short time. “The government must target assistance to the long-term unemployed who need it most,” he said.

Official figures released this week show a slight drop in unemployment among 16-24 year olds from February to April compared to the previous quarter.

Youth unemployment increased faster between spring and autumn 2020 than at any time since the financial crisis. Many of these people are now classified as long-term unemployed.

The number of young people in employment is down by 274,000 compared to the previous year. More than half a million in this age group are unemployed.

“There were predictions of unemployment reaching 4 or 5 million. It didn’t happen, so the risk is that we start to think ‘crisis, what crisis? “When we have a big problem,” Wilson said.

Ministers said they wanted to avoid “scars,” the long-term hangover of a recession that can take lives and hamper economic recovery.

“Being unemployed for a prolonged period, especially when someone is young, is known to have effects on people’s income and well-being for many years,” he said. .

“Your skills become less relevant, your self-confidence decreases and your mental health deteriorates. There is also a strong signaling effect which is very difficult to override. If employers see a gap in someone’s resume and there are 100 applications, it goes in the trash. It becomes self-fulfilling. “

He added, “You can give people talk therapy to help them improve their mindset, motivation and resilience, but you can’t change the signal employers see. “

Mr Wilson is among the experts calling for a job guarantee that would ensure anyone out of work for six months is offered a job. “It would mean that no one is left behind,” he said.

The government announced a “guarantee of opportunity” more than a year ago, but details have not yet been released.

Steve Haines, public affairs director of the youth charity Impetus, also praised the Kickstart program, but urged the government to do more to tackle youth unemployment.

“What really worries me is that young people have lost a lot of hope,” he said. “You have to have a positive outlook on your future and with all that is so uncertain it’s going to be pretty tough. “

While the latest labor market statistics offered “positive signs” for the economy, he said “we must not fall asleep and allow an uneven recovery”.

He added: “A deeper problem is hidden – hundreds of thousands of young people who are still on leave face even more time out of the labor market, many more will drop out of education and look for work, and the young will leave the job market. further away from work, the market risks being left out of education and long-term employment.

Kickstart is only just beginning, he said. “It’s running until the end of the year, but if we don’t have anything beyond that, that’s a problem.

“There is a risk that we will store problems for the future.

“What we risk seeing if we look away at this critical time is that the investment is not made and that we see these young people staying firmly out of the workforce in 2022 and beyond. “

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This notice was published: 2021-06-21 08:48:08

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