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Young people, who lost jobs in the pandemic in UK ‘returning to insecure work’.

Insecure Roles

Young people who have returned to work after lockdown are more likely to be in insecure roles, research from the leading think tank, the Resolution Foundation, has found. An article from The Guardian revealed that a recent study by the think tank of 6,100 adults found that young people aged between 18 – 24 who lost their jobs or were furloughed during the pandemic were three times more likely to be in ‘atypical’ roles. This included insecure work such as temporary contracts, zero-hours contracts, agency work or working a job with variable hours. The study also found that 33% of young people who were in work before the first lockdown and were back at work by October 2021 were in an atypical job. By comparison, just 12% of young people who worked throughout the lockdowns were in atypical work.

Young people who were workless during the lockdowns but returned to work by October 2021 were also more likely to spend the rest of the winter looking for additional work or looking to change jobs when compared to those who worked throughout (25% and 19%, respectively). The report found that by October 2021, three-quarters (76%) of the young people who had been workless during either of the national lockdowns had returned to work, noting that the unemployment rate for people in this age group had decreased to 9.8% in the three months to November 2021: below the pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 10.5%.



    CIPD Comments

    Commenting on the findings, Jon Boys, labour market economist at the CIPD, said it was expected for younger people to be in insecure work, adding that it “usually suits their preferences”.

    However, he warned that “such work becomes problematic when people are not given opportunities to progress” and advised that firms should focus on job quality and “making good work a reality for all”, which benefits employee wellbeing and workforce productivity.



      Further Actions

      Louise Murphy, an economist at The Resolution Foundation, agreed that firms needed to prioritise access to good quality jobs and sufficient hours, commenting that “a return to the workplace, on its own, is not enough”.

      “And while unemployment has fallen, the number of young people dropping out of education and the labour market altogether has risen – especially young men. A return to the workplace, on its own, is not enough. Ensuring that young people have the confidence and knowledge to find and apply for work, and access to good quality jobs and sufficient hours, must be a priority for employers and policymakers in the months and years to come.

      In the end, it will come down to UK employers to focus on ‘good work’ for all and ensuring younger workers are given opportunities to progress – all in a days work for HR Teams!