Almost a fifth of 18-24 year olds who were furloughed during lockdown were unemployed by September 2020.

According to new research by Resolution Foundation, an independent think tank, young people and ethnic minorities will be most impacted by unemployment once the furlough scheme ends.

The research shows that close to a fifth of 18-24 year olds (19 per cent) were unemployed by September after initially being furloughed during lockdown.

When considering BAME employees (Black, Asian, minority ethnic), this number increased to 22 per cent which was significantly higher than the national average of 9 per cent unemployment amongst the general population of the UK.

Similarly impacted were those previously working on insecure contracts, 22 per cent of whom were furloughed and eventually laid off.

This report also suggests a much higher rate of unemployment than that of official Government statistics, standing at seven per cent in September as opposed to official figures of 4.5 per cent. Of this number, a fifth (20 per cent) are young people – the highest levels of youth unemployment in four decades.

Findings also showed that London has been particularly badly hit in terms of unemployment or reduced hours. Due to COVID-19, 21 per cent of the workers in the UK were either not working, furloughed or had lost working hours (and pay) in September. Of this group, almost one in three (28 per cent) live in London.

Just under half of the people surveyed (43 per cent) who had lost their job in March had managed to find new jobs by September 2020. For young people, this figure stood at one in three whilst only 36 per cent of those working in sectors which have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic managed to find work after being made redundant.

The research has also highlighted a problem; workers exiting struggling sectors are generally not heading towards sectors with more growth. The research found that people in the UK are more likely to look for vacancies in the leisure sector (21 per cent) – which had the fewest listed vacancies – than the social care sector which had the highest number of vacancies.

Kathleen Henehan, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said:

The first eight months of the COVID crisis have been marked by an almighty economic shock and unprecedented support that has cushioned the impact in terms of people’s livelihoods.

But the true nature of Britain’s jobs crisis is starting to reveal itself. Around one-in-five young people, and over one-in-five BAME workers, have fallen straight from furloughing into unemployment.

Worryingly, fewer than half of those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic have been able to find work since. This suggests that even if the public health crisis recedes in a few months’ time, Britain’s jobs crisis will be with us for far longer.

Kirstie Donnelly, CEO at City & Guilds Group, said:

The latest report from the Resolution Foundation paints a worrying picture for young adults in the UK, and sadly confirms predictions that ‘Generation Covid’ will be have their job prospects hit hardest by the pandemic – especially those working in sectors like hospitality and leisure.

As the furlough scheme winds to an end, it’s clear we need to ensure we have the necessary interventions in place that will truly help young people get back into work, now and in the long-term. And the reality is that the Government continues to be too focused on firefighting to think longer than six months ahead.

If we’re to prevent a lost generation of workers, we need longer term interventions. Government must work with local government and business leaders to create more permanent solutions which provide people with the support and framework they need to gain the right skills, advice and experience to access meaningful, long-term employment in their area.







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.