EDUCATION leavers facing unemployment following the pandemic have been dubbed ‘the covid generation’ by the CEO of Warwickshire College Group.
Angela Joyce, who is also the chair of the Midlands Engine Skills Board, says the crisis has created a ‘covid generation’ of education leavers who have worked hard but have few jobs to go into.
A report from the board has warned many young people will face unemployment over the next few months as they try to compete for very few jobs.
The report states, as a result, further education will be in higher demand as many people who are out of work look to improve their prospects.
Joyce said: “The summer 2020 examinations process has failed many young people, narrowing their choices and their next steps, although the full impact of this is not yet known. And around one and a half million Midlands workers have been furloughed during the pandemic, with lower qualified workers now most at risk of losing their jobs.”
The report, known as the Midlands Engine Covid-19 Monitor, also showed the closure of schools between March and June highlighted existing inequalities between students, increased the likelihood of mental health issues, and impaired the development of social skills, especially in younger children.
It has raised concern bumping up A-level grades at the last minute could mean students who may not have earned such a high grade could struggle at college or university.
It also highlighted the continuing impact of the pandemic on apprenticeship availability, with some existing apprentices furloughed or made redundant.
And for university students, fewer term-time jobs have been available to support their income, which has disproportionally affected students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Midlands Engine director Rachael Greenwood said: “One of many strengths of our region is the high proportion of young people in the Midlands – but the findings of our review into the impacts on young people and employment opportunities are deeply worrying.
“An unwavering focus on investment at scale is needed now to make sure our college leavers and university graduates have the opportunities they deserve, to apply their skills and knowledge in good quality jobs.”
Joyce stressed by focusing on providing the right training for young people, the damage caused by the pandemic could be mitigated.
She added: “We need training that is focused on job creation, on the needs of our industries and on accelerating economic recovery. It is time for a step-change – time for tailored approaches which actively support individuals, businesses and our region.
“The Midlands Engine Partnership is well placed to support economic recovery across the Midlands – a region which is diverse in its population, its industry and which is essential to the future success of the UK.”