The Domino Effect: The falling foundations of the UK’s young people

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COVID-19 has sparked a chain reaction which could impact the UK’s young people for years to come

Education

A generation of school children face possible disruption to their education and knock-on consequences for life prospects, with those in the poorest backgrounds being hit the hardest

Many primary and secondary school students have been unable to attend school through lockdown, with those in poorer backgrounds being disproportionately impacted with less home-schooling resources. This has not fully recovered despite the lifting of restrictions, directly impacting students who are at a critical stage in their learning and development. This generation of students will have to learn faster, and work harder in an extremely challenging environment, while educational standards are likely to remain the same. Those with less support through this difficult time are likely to suffer most, but all young people’s prospects are at risk.

Income

Educational woes could severely impact earning potential for young people, with two ends of the spectrum, the under-qualified & the over-qualified – both groups could be impacted by unemployment

We are currently watching a harrowing picture of youth unemployment unfold, which shows no signs of improvement in the latest release by the ONS. The knock-on impact of educational challenges will present immediate challenges for students who do not receive the results or qualifications they need. Even if you’re lucky enough to visit university, those who will graduate over the coming years will leave university and enter the most challenging job market that we’ve seen for years, creating a bottleneck for over-qualified, underpaid young people.

Compounding these issues are the extreme challenges faced by the industries that young people support. Mass-redundancies in sectors typically dominated by young-workers, such as retail and hospitality, are suffering enormously. In the long-term it is also these sectors that will be expected to take the longest to recover (if they do at all). The income safety net offered to young people has been destroyed, whether they are over or under qualified. Overall, young people will earn & save less, and the well-paved career journey of older generations has been replaced by uncertainty.

Mental Health

The reduction of support available through education, as well as income turmoil, will cause already rising mental health issues to skyrocket

Anxiety and panic have left young people feeling out of control. COVID has put many lives on hold and the support network and pathways previously available have been closed. One report by The Prince’s Trust highlights these challenges with young people not in education, employment or training were significantly more likely to feel down or depressed than their peers. Furthermore this anxiety is severely damaging young people’s outlook and aspirations. The uncertainty caused by the pandemic will only accelerate mental health decline, and when combined with the stark outlook for education and income, a new mental health pandemic is likely to form, with a serious impact on a generation of youths.

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Author


Oliver Packer

Consultant at Capgemini Invent

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