The career ambitions of young people have suffered during the pandemic, with more than a third stating that they do not feel equipped to compete in the job market.
According to research by the Social Market Foundation think-tank, significant numbers of people aged 16-25 feel ill-equipped for the world of work, pessimistic about the future, and likely to end up in a “dead end job” – especially those from low income families.
The report finds young people are less optimistic now than they were after the 2008/09 recession. Half say their ambitions have been lowered during the pandemic.
Thirty-four per cent feel ill-equipped to join the job market, rising to 52% of those from less affluent backgrounds.
Thirty per cent expect to “end up in a dead end job” and agree that “people like me don’t succeed, rising to 43% among those from lower income families.
Tesco, which supported the research, plans to help 45,000 young people build employability skills over the next year by participating in the government’s Kickstart scheme; offering work placements; creating job opportunities; offering degree apprenticeship and graduate roles; and conducting pre-employment outreach in partnership with the Careers Enterprise Company, Speakers for Schools and food and consumer goods industry body IGD.
Tesco’s chief people officer Natasha Adams said: “Inequalities in society are having a big impact on the outlook and chances of young people. At the same time, a whole generation is grappling with the disruption that Covid-19 has caused to jobs and education.
“We must not allow a two-tier system to emerge where some are equipped with the confidence to get on and others are left behind. Businesses like ours need young, diverse talent. We are committed to creating opportunities for all and want young people to see that everyone’s welcome at Tesco, whoever you are and whatever your background.”
The research, which involved 1,009 people aged 16-25 in May and June 2021, also finds:
- Nearly half (44%) of young people think few or none of their life goals are achievable, rising to 61% among those from less affluent backgrounds
- Young people from lower income families are twice as likely to not feel optimistic about the future (33%) and discouraged by setbacks (47%)
- Those from low income backgrounds are more likely to be put off applying for jobs, training, or education opportunities they wanted to go for than those from more affluent families
- Being happy, having money and having a good job are young people’s top three priorities in life
- The more affluent a young person’s background is, the more likely they are to say they have role models.
Fiona Miller, director of people programme at IGD, said the FMCG sector employed roughly one in seven people in the UK. IGD is working with organisations including Tesco, Jobcentre Plus and schools and colleges to deliver virtual work experience programmes.
“By working together, to date we’ve given 60,000 young people vital employability skills training to develop their capability and potential to thrive in the workplace. And it’s great to see how our work experience programme is already having an impact, with 91% of previous participants telling us it’s developed their skills and 86% telling us they’re more confident about their employment prospects,” said Miller.
“These activities, delivered in partnership with businesses such as Tesco, provide vital support and training to kick-start young people’s careers at a time when they need it most, as well as supporting the attraction of young talent into our fast-paced, innovative and resilient industry.”
Jonathan Townsend, UK chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, said: “This generation of young people have faced a disrupted education and now look to enter a volatile jobs market, so we need to make sure the odds don’t stay stacked against them.
“More than ever, it’s crucial that we work with partners like Tesco to support young people to upskill, train and access job opportunities; long term commitments such as these mean we can make a real difference to the lives of young people across the UK.”