Will there be a ‘lost generation’ of young people after coronavirus?
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Young people in Suffolk have been urged to “prepare for the worst and hope for the best” amid fears they might be part of a “lost generation” after the Covid-19 crisis.
School and university leavers have spoken candidly of their worries of finding work in the current climate, where more than 600,000 jobs have been lost nationally since the pandemic broke in 2020.
Some young people in Suffolk say it has “turned my world upside down” and that their chosen career paths may be altered forever, with fears there will be fewer jobs available.
Adam Watts, employment engagement advisor at the Youth Employment Service run by Inspire Suffolk on behalf of East Suffolk Council, said the crisis had “undoubtedly caused a lot of problems”.
However, he urged young people not to lose faith – saying that Suffolk has an advantage over many other areas in the jobs market.
‘Let’s hope for the best’
“It is not uncommon for young people to work the summer season in the holiday resorts and the winter in retail,” he said.
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“That cycle has been broken, because holiday resorts have not been open.
“We don’t know whether retail will be taking a big hit by Christmas, or whether we could see a real boost for shops at Christmas.
“We’re concerned that, once furlough comes to an end, is there still going to be a job for them?
“However, I’m actually a little sceptical about whether there will be a ‘lost generation’.
“We’re concerned about some things, but I don’t think there’s a crisis right now. There are still opportunities, they just look different.
“However, I certainly can’t tell what’s going to happen and the experts can’t tell what’s going to happen.
“What we need to do is prepare for the worst-case scenario and then let’s hope for the best.”
Show off your talents
Since it was set up in November last year, Mr Watts’ service has been travelling to towns such as Felixstowe, Leiston and Lowestoft to meet face-to-face with young people and offer them job hunting support.
The service had to operate digitally during the coronavirus lockdown, but has continued to give young people coaching on CVs, interview techniques and even basics such as how to greet employers.
By June, it had already helped 600 young people – 55 a month from February.
Mr Watts’ advice is that: “Should it be a really challenging labour market, employers are going to look to take on people who are multi-skilled.
“Young people need to make sure they’re reflecting the skills they have and doing that in a really good way.
“There are a lot of skills this generation of young people have and take for granted, and therefore sometimes don’t even mention on CVs.
“For example, if a young person is savvy with using social media, they might be in an admin role but might take on some additional marketing responsibility.”
Opportunities in Suffolk
Mr Watts added that Suffolk does not always get credit for its vast range of opportunities.
“That entrenched mindset is not reflected in the confidence business has in the area,” he said.
“The business community can see value in Suffolk. It’s about getting our young people to understand that they’re part of that as well.
“If they don’t fill those opportunities, people from outside of the area will.”
‘We Believe in YOUth’
Inspire Suffolk has started its We Believe in YOUth campaign to tackle the threat posed by Covid-19 to young people’s wellbeing and the youth jobs market.
Terry Baxter, chief executive of Inspire Suffolk, said: “The impact of Covid-19 on the lives of young people cannot be underestimated.
“It is vitally important that we work with young people to tackle these issues head on.
“We simply cannot wait - many individuals are leaving problems untreated until they reach a crisis point.”
To donate to Inspire Suffolk, visit the charity’s JustGiving page.
For more about We Believe in YOUth, click here.