The Learning & Work Institute (LWI) is a policy, research and development organisation focused on lifelong learning, full employment and inclusion. Our ‘What Works Unit’ is all about sharing evidence-based policy and practice. I was pleased to be able to share our expertise with the Forum on the work we have been doing on the impact of the pandemic on particular groups of people, including young people.
We know that young people have borne the brunt of the pandemic. Education and learning have been disrupted, and young people have accounted for most of the fall in employment. This is partly due to the sectors young people are likely to work in such as retail and hospitality. Young people who don't have formal qualifications are more likely to have been furloughed or lost their job and young black people have also been particularly affected. A March 2021 report from the LWI and The Prince’s Trust found that youth unemployment will remain high, even once the economy recovers. The fiscal cost, in the form of lower tax revenue and higher benefit spending, is forecast to be £2.9 billion in 2022. That's alongside the economic impacts, and long-running scarring costs. This will have an impact on young people, and their mental health, but also on businesses and the wider economic recovery. It is crucial therefore that young people are a key part of any recovery plan.
The answer is to improve the opportunities for young people, and particularly disadvantaged young people, to access education and learning, and employment. This support will be needed more urgently in some places than in others, not only because certain places have been hit harder, but also because some will be slower to recover. Employers in London are much more positive about young peoples’ employment prospects post-COVID for example as it relatively well-placed to bounce back. Other parts of the country will not be as well-placed. We need to think about how we direct support to those places that need it most.