Younger workers jobs at a higher risk due to COVID-19

Younger employees (aged 25 and under) are three times more likely to be in a sector where jobs are at a higher risk due to COVID-19.

Analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has found that the two sectors most at risk of losing jobs compared to others, accommodation and food as well as arts, entertainment and recreation are heavily populated with younger workers.

Also, a recession brought on by COVID-19 means that younger people will find it harder to enter the labour market for the first time.

The analysis suggests that, without urgent action, the UK may be on the brink of a surge in youth unemployment:

  • Of 4,352,000 UK workers aged 25 and under, 890,000 work in either accommodation and food, or arts, entertainment and recreation.
  • It means that 20 per cent of workers aged 25 and under work in these two sectors, compared to 6 per cent of older workers.
  • Workers aged 25 and under are therefore three times more likely to work in one of the two sectors where jobs are at greatest risk.


Women aged 25 and under are at the biggest risk, as they are six times more likely than younger male workers to be in the highest risk sectors.

Lengthy periods of unemployment can have a negative impact on later working life, as it can lead to a bigger chance of future periods of unemployment and work with lower pay.

Sector Workforce furloughed Businesses pausing trading Businesses with turnover falling more than 50 per cent
Accommodation and food

83 per cent

74 per cent

62 per cent

Arts, entertainment and recreation

73 per cent

75 per cent

63 per cent

Construction industries

41 per cent

19 per cent

40 per cent

Average for all industries

28 per cent

18 per cent

26 per cent

The TUC is calling for a job guarantee scheme to assist younger workers from becoming unemployed for a long period of time. This scheme would be similar to part of the national recovery plan following the 2008 recession.

Key features of the TUC’s proposed job guarantee scheme:

  • Supports additional jobs that would not otherwise be created by employers
  • Enables work that benefits the UK, such as helping to decarbonise the economy
  • Offers secure contracts of at least six months
  • Pays at least the real living wage
  • Gives training opportunities to help people move into longer-term work
  • Provides guaranteed access to trade union representation


Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC said:

We know it’s a tough road ahead. But the more people there are in work, the faster we can work our way out of recession.

Our national recovery plan must be centred on jobs – both protecting those we have and creating more.  We need more good jobs in social care, in the green tech that our future depends on, in UK start-ups and in a revitalised manufacturing sector.

Some industries may need help for longer through the job retention scheme so they can retain staff while they adapt to new safety standards.

And for those who lose their jobs, the Government must set up a job guarantee scheme. Young people in particular can’t be left to the misery of long-term unemployment. And it’s the best value option for the treasury.

Making sure everyone has a decent job on a fair wage is how to recover faster and build back better.

This news comes as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the Government to prioritise job creation, skills training and opportunities for young people in order to drive the UK economy post COVID-19. Dame Carolyn Fairbairnalso outlined that British businesses cannot handle a no-deal Brexit after the COVID-19 pandemic, as it has been reported that Brexit trade negotiates are not going well.

The TUC analysis compared unemployment risk related to the COVID-19 crisis across sectors and looks at the age profile of workers in industries with the highest risk of being let go. The analysis used three measurements to assess the risk of every sector, they were (1) the rate of furloughed workers, (2) the proportion of businesses that have paused or cancelled trading, and (3) the proportion of businesses with turnover falling more than 50 per cent.





Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.