Young people put off entering jobs market because of uncertainty, poll finds

Report reveals nearly three in five school leavers have changed their plans because of coronavirus, with more now planning to stay in education

More school leavers are putting off entering the workforce and turning to university as a default choice because of uncertainty in the jobs market, new research has found.

Almost three in five (57 per cent) of 17 to 19 year olds in their final two years of school said their decisions about post-education work and training have changed as a result of the pandemic, a survey by City & Guilds has found.

The poll, which surveyed 1,000 young people aged between 16 and 19, found a fifth (20 per cent) now wanted to stay in full-time education for longer than they intended.

The survey also found that two in five (40 per cent) of 17 to 19 year olds said they have planned or plan to go to university. This compared to just one in five (22 per cent) who planned to go straight into work, and 13 per cent who planned to take on an apprenticeship.

Almost one-sixth (14 per cent) said they were worried that it would be difficult to get a job or apprenticeship, according to the survey.

The findings suggest that school leavers are opting to go to university to improve their future career prospects, with more than two in five (44 per cent) of those choosing university, believing this to be the best way to get a job, and a similar proportion (39 per cent) saying they know they will get paid well if they have a degree.

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However, City & Guilds warned that, since the onset of the pandemic, this may no longer be the case, pointing to ONS data showing that almost four in 10 graduates are unable to land graduate-level jobs.

Kirstie Donnelly, chief executive of City & Guilds, said: “As the jobs landscape continues to reel from the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit, it’s more important than ever before to understand that [university] isn’t the only option available to them.

“Employers are increasingly recognising the value of apprentices and other routes into the workplace that teach workplace skills,” she said, calling for young people to be given access to “robust and up-to-date careers advice”.

“Ahead of results day, it’s important that young people understand the full range of options available to them and which types of jobs are likely to be available when they finish their studies,” said Donnelly.