health

Young people fear poor mental health will affect post-Covid job prospects


More than one in four young people are worried that poor mental health will affect their ability to find work after the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report.

After the opening up of the British economy this spring, the Resolution Foundation said young workers were still suffering a heavier toll than their older colleagues and were paying a heavier price with their mental health.

It said that 18- to 24-year-olds were two and a half times more likely at the end of May to be out of work or still on furlough than any other age group, even after the reopening of hospitality venues across the UK as activity returns to Britain’s high streets.

It comes amid mounting concerns over the lasting impact of the crisis for young people after 15 months of unprecedented disruption to their educations and the start of their working lives, with separate research published on Monday by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warning that those getting on the career ladder for the first time could bear the scars of the Covid recession for years to come.

Despite the opening up of the economy this spring, the Resolution Foundation said more than one in five adults aged 18 to 24 reported struggles with mental health last month.

In a survey of more than 8,000 adults, undertaken by YouGov on behalf of the thinktank and the Health Foundation charity, fewer than half (48%) said their mental health was good. This compared with a much higher rate of 64% for 55- to 64-year-olds.

More than one in four (27%) of 18- to 24-year-olds said they were worried about finding a job in the coming months because of their mental health, compared with about one in five people aged 35 to 54 and only one in 10 55- to 64-year-olds.

Rukmen Sehmi, a senior research and policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Young people have been hit hardest by the Covid-19 economic crisis, which has taken its toll on their mental health.

“Worryingly, some young people are struggling even while the economy is recovering, and they are fearful about their career prospects. These fears must not be underestimated.”

The evidence comes as the Institute for Fiscal Studies said young adults were battling greater challenges in the world of work than their older peers as pandemic restrictions are relaxed.

The influential thinktank said there were growing risks that young workers would “bear the scars” of the Covid-19 recession for several years to come.

It said young adults had avoided sliding into poverty during the crisis because of the government’s furlough scheme and as they chose to delay the start of their careers by staying at home living with their parents while the pandemic continued.

Official figures show under-25s have accounted for two-thirds of the decline in employment in the UK during the pandemic and were more likely to be placed on furlough than older staff.

The IFS said it was no surprise that young people were more pessimistic about their immediate financial future, given the looming end of the furlough scheme and as living with parents was not a sustainable or desirable option long term.

It found the proportion of young adults aged 19 to 24 who did not work any hours per week, including those who were furloughed, rose by a quarter – or 400,000 – from the end of 2019 to the end of March this year – much higher than for older age groups.

Highlighting the rise in young people staying at home as they hold back from getting on to the career ladder because of Covid-19, it said the share of 19- to 24-year-olds living at home with their parents – excluding full-time students – increased from 45% to 50%.

Xiaowei Xu, a senior research economist at the IFS, said: “We know that shocks early on in people’s careers can have negative effects on their future job prospects. Without effective support, there is a risk that young people today will bear the scars of the recession for years to come.”



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