Two-fifths of young people say pandemic has harmed career prospects, CIPD poll finds

Experts say younger workers are still at the ‘back of the queue’ despite ongoing skills shortages

The pandemic has been harmful to the careers of nearly two in five young people, a CIPD poll has found, with experts warning that younger workers were being left at the “back of the queue” despite skills shortages.

The survey of 2,000 people aged 18 to 30 found 43 per cent felt the pandemic has been detrimental to their long term career prospects.

The CIPD says this could be because they’ve lost their jobs, remote working has harmed their networking or development opportunities or as there are fewer openings in their chosen sectors.

The survey also found that of those young people not in work, half (50 per cent) have been unemployed for 12 months.

A similar proportion (49 per cent) said they were not confident about finding a job in the next three months, while nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) said they were not confident they would find a job that would meet their career ambitions and salary expectations in the next three months.

This is despite one in seven unemployed young people (14 per cent) reporting they had applied for more than 30 jobs in the last three months.

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Over half of those not in work (51 per cent) said they had not accessed any support services to help them look for work.

In response to its survey findings, the CIPD has launched a campaign calling on employers to create one million opportunities for people aged 16 to 30, including through jobs, internships, work experience and apprenticeships. 

Lizzie Crowley, senior skills policy advisor at the CIPD, said although talk of staff shortages in recent months has given the impression that it should be easy to find work, young people were “often left at the back of the queue” as employers favour more experienced workers. 

“Unemployment at a young age can leave permanent scarring, and means they’re more likely to earn less over the course of their working lives and experience more spells of unemployment.

“More employers also need to take a chance on young people and be prepared to train them up, given our labour supply is changing and staff shortages are becoming more prevalent,” said Crowley.

Victoria Head, director of skills and employability at Catch22, added there were things employers could do to support young people, including recognising transferable skills and providing progression or work experience opportunities.

“We know this pandemic has affected young people disproportionately – from missing out on education to the limited jobs available in sectors that are traditionally filled by young people – such as hospitality and creative industries,” said Head.

“If organisations commit to these changes now they’ll not only find the talent to meet demand, but there will be a more diverse and inclusive workforce too.”

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that in the 12 months to March 2021, 813,000 payrolled jobs were lost, of which 54 per cent were held by people under 25.