New research highlights the severe impact of COVID-19 on young people and their rate of employment, with the current number of young people employed being less than at any point during the 2008 financial crisis.

Analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) reveals the significant impact the global pandemic has had on young people and their jobs.

More young people, aged between 16-24, lost their jobs in the summer of this year than during the whole of last year, Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows. 59,000 young workers were made redundant between July and September 2020 whilst for the whole of 2019, this figure was 56,000.

Additionally, young workers were significantly more likely to have lost their jobs in comparison to working adults. During this crisis, the number of working adults in the UK has fallen by 2 per cent. However, for young people, this figure has decreased by 8 per cent to 3.5 million young people employed. This is lower than any recorded data for the financial crash of 2008.

This has meant that there are over half a million young people (600,000) that are no longer employed overall.

The TUC have also stated that young people are more likely to be furloughed than older workers and in which, in many cases, has also come with a pay penalty.

The Job Retention Scheme does not have any provisions to stop workers from falling under the minimum wage whilst furloughed. This has meant that, in April 2020, almost half a million young people (423,000) were paid below minimum wage.

This disproportionate impact on young people is largely to do with COVID-19 hitting certain sectors the hardest such as food services and accommodation which are industries that tend to take on young workers.

Due to their findings, the TUC have called on the Government to put in extra measures in order to avoid a “generation scarred by mass unemployment”.

The body stated that they support the Government’s introduction of the Kickstart Scheme in November – a scheme that provides funding to create new job placements for 16-24 year olds who are on Universal Credit and at risk for long-term unemployment.

However, the TUC state that this scheme is not effective yet as it does not guarantee a high-quality sustainable job on a decent wage for every young employed person.

Instead, the TUC have said that the spending review next week must mean ministers take this chance to create good-quality jobs across the whole of Britain for workers of all ages. It states that it must reach further than the ten-point green plan announced by the Prime Minister last week.

Additionally, the TUC have also called for targeted support for struggling sectors such as hospitality and retail which employ a high rate of young workers. It has also urged the Government to uplift Universal Credit for young people who are made redundant.

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, reiterated this:

We are on the edge of a national unemployment crisis. This generation of young workers must not be abandoned to mass unemployment.

At next week’s spending review, we need action to create good new jobs across the country. That means fast-tracking investment in green transport and infrastructure on a much more ambitious scale than the prime minister announced this week.

And it means stepping in to help hard-hit industries like retail and hospitality – two of the biggest employers of young people.

We must help young workers who lose their jobs get back on their feet quickly. They need decent financial support, not misery and destitution. The government must boost universal credit payments.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.