The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people
The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting public health policies have had a significant and disproportionate effect on young people. Literature tells us that young people are typically the first to lose jobs, are less likely to be recruited into new jobs, and experience a 'scarring effect' as a result of a recession. A recent Resolution Foundation report finds that since the pandemic began, young people have been more likely than older age groups to have lost working hours, been put on furlough or have lost their job. This is in part driven by the large proportion of young people working in sectors such as retail, hospitality, and arts and leisure, all of which have been under severe business constraints during the pandemic.
Young people are not only losing their jobs, but recent education leavers entering the labour market for the first time are struggling to find jobs. The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) finds that, based on research on previous recessions, graduates will be less likely to find work and will start their careers in occupations with lower pay than they might have expected. The Resolution Foundation suggests that this employment and pay scarring as a result of the pandemic could be larger and longer-lasting than that seen after the 2008 financial crisis.
Several studies also find that the impact of the pandemic is unevenly spread among young people, exacerbating pre-existing inequalities and negatively impacting social mobility.
Young Person's Guarantee
The Young Person's Guarantee was introduced in November 2020 in response to these challenges. The ambition of the Guarantee is that "every person aged between 16 and 24 in Scotland has the opportunity, depending on their circumstances, to study; take up an apprenticeship, job or work experience; or participate in formal volunteering."
This paper looks to provide background data on the different elements of the Guarantee, covering the most recent available data on young people and their participation in education, training, employment and volunteering. It also looks to provide a breakdown, as far as possible, on how the trends vary by equalities characteristics, including gender/sex, disability, ethnicity, care experience and level of deprivation (SIMD).
The paper draws from various different data sources that report on young people in education, employment and training, including SDS, SFC, HESA, and several Scottish Government statistical publications. The paper should be treated as secondary analysis that compliments these existing statistical publications by pulling together key data on young people's economic activity under one source.
The findings of this paper also inform and compliment the development of the Measurement and Evaluation Framework of the Guarantee, including the already published Key Performance Indicators.
Structure of the paper
The paper is structured into seven broad chapters. The first chapter gives an overview of the size of the 16 to 24 year olds population in Scotland, as well as looking at the available high level measures on young people's participation in economic activity. The following sections will then look at each economic activity in more detail, with Chapter 2 focussing on labour market data, Chapter 3 on school leaver data, Chapter 4 on college data, Chapter 5 on university data and Chapter 6 on apprenticeships data. Finally, Chapter 7 will focus on the employer perspective, looking at available data on employers recruiting young people.
The paper uses the most recent available data on each of these topics. In some cases this has allowed for initial observations to be made on the impact of the pandemic on young people. However, in other instances, latest data available pre-dates the pandemic.
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