Over the last couple of weeks, I have been focussing on how we can help to improve adult skills; up-skilling and re-training and looking at the opportunities which might be available to residents in Hastings and Rye to do so. This week, I have been concentrating on the 16 to 24 year-old age group and met with the Princes Trust and next week, I will be meeting up with Xtrax, a Hastings based charity which supports vulnerable young people aged 16-24. When we look to turbocharging our economy and navigating our way out of this health and economic crisis, as well as investing in infrastructure, we also need to invest in young people.
Coronavirus has affected all of us in many ways, but reports suggest that 16 to 24 year-olds may be more economically adversely affected by coronavirus than other age groups. Between 25 and 55% of 16 to 24 year-olds work in the retail, hospitality and tourism sectors, compared with less than 20% of the rest of the workforce. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), employees aged under 25 were about two and a half times as likely to work in a sector that is now shut down as other employees.
According to the Resolution Foundation, one-third of 18- to 24 year-old employees (excluding students) have lost jobs or been furloughed, compared to one-in-six prime-age adults. 35% of non-full-time 18 to 24 year-old student employees are earning less than they did prior to the outbreak, compared to 23% of 25 to 49 year-olds.
The UK’s employment rate was at a record high the month before the coronavirus outbreak started to take hold, including an increase in the number of young people in full-time employment. But, from when the UK lockdown began in March, there has been an increase of 109% in people aged 16 to 24 claiming unemployment related benefits within 3 months (264,545 claimants in March compared to 506,305 in May).
There are organisations which offer real support and guidance to young people, including The Prince’s Trust, which supports young people from 11 to 30 years of age whether they are unemployed, struggling at school, and including those who have been in trouble with the law. The charity helps them ‘develop the confidence and skills to live, to learn and to earn, giving them an increasing stake in our economy and society.’ The Trust has helped more than 960,000 young people to date and supports over 100 more each day. I am working with the Trust to find local partners that it can work with to support our young people in Hastings and Rye.
I welcome the Prime Minister’s confirmation this week that the Government is looking at how it can support employers and small businesses, including sufficient funding, to take on new apprentices this year; this is vital in helping young people into employment.
The effects of the coronavirus crisis on our young people’s job prospects are a source of concern and I am perturbed to read that some of the UK’s biggest employers are cancelling or delaying recruitment schemes and internships. I urge our local businesses and employers in Hastings and Rye to invest in our young people, recognising the key role they play in supporting young people at this time. I will continue to lobby the Government to ensure that everyone who is unemployed will have the help that they need to access employment, with investment in employment skills, training and jobs to make this happen, with greatest support for those facing disadvantage.