New research from EngineeringUK reveals the impact of Covid-19 on young people and the jobs they want in the future
• Over 2 in 5 young people reported that the pandemic has made ‘having a job that you can be certain you can keep’ and ‘availability of jobs’ more important to them when considering their future career choices
• A third (30%) of 11 to 19 year olds say the careers they could do has changed as a result of the pandemic and two thirds (62%) said that finding a job in the future has become more difficult
• Just over half said going to university would become more difficult and 41% agreed that becoming an apprentice will be more difficult as a result of the pandemic
There doesn’t seem to be an area of our lives that the Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t touched and with the announcement from the Chancellor introducing a £2bn ‘kickstart scheme’ to create more jobs for young people in early July, it’s clear that the impact is going to be felt keenly by the youth of today and the workers of tomorrow.
New research commissioned by EngineeringUK makes it clear that the pandemic has had a bearing on young people and the careers they’re thinking about choosing in the future. The research reveals over 2 in 5 young people reported that the pandemic has made ‘having a job that you can be certain you can keep’ (44%) and ‘availability of jobs’ (41%) more important to them when considering their future career choices.
For some young people the pandemic also appeared to raise the importance of having a job that enabled them to make a positive societal contribution, with around a third of
respondents indicating that the pandemic has made ‘having a positive impact on society’ (36%), ‘helping people with the work they do’ (34%), and ‘ethics and social responsibility’ (33%) more important when considering career choices. Considerations such as ‘liking what I do’ and ‘being able to progress in my career’ are sadly lower (33% and 26%).
Findings from the research, which surveyed over 1,100 11 to 19 year olds, also suggests that some young people felt their career choices have been constrained because of the pandemic with 30% saying the careers they could do has changed as a result of the pandemic, and 22% saying what they wanted to do as a career has changed.
A belief that the pandemic will adversely affect the educational routes and job opportunities came across strongly in the survey with 62% agreeing or strongly agreeing that finding a job in the future has become more difficult. The results also found that of 15 to 19 year olds, 52% said going to university would become more difficult as a result of the pandemic and 41% agreed or strongly agreed that becoming an apprentice would be difficult too.
Throughout the survey there were often significant gender differences, with girls/young women more likely than boys/young men to say ‘ethics and social responsibility’ (89% vs 80%) and ‘helping people with the work you do’ (89% vs 79%) were important factors when thinking about jobs they want to do in the future.
Dr Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK says: ‘Young people are going to be greatly affected by the pandemic for years to come and they are well aware of it. To hear that children as young as 11 are concerned about their ongoing education and careers is not what anyone wants, but their interest in job security and availability is balanced by an increased desire to benefit people and society.
‘It is encouraging that the pandemic has resulted in young people being considerably more interested in a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). Young people know about the role that engineers have played in efforts to combat the pandemic - we need to translate this insight into career aspirations. Interest in engineering careers lags behind that in science and technology so we need to emphasise the opportunities, as the country invests in its infrastructure and net zero, and provide young people with every opportunity to hear about and experience the breadth and societal impact of modern engineering.
We ask that organisations that have been resilient to the impact of the pandemic go above and beyond, supporting young people who may join with their future workforce and that of the wider system – from their supply chain to the wider economy.
We have to give this generation the opportunities they deserve - but it’s also something the engineering sector needs - we need young people in the workforce to ensure a balanced age profile and to gain from the diversity of perspective that they bring.
“I encourage the government to be bold, ambitious and experimental in its support for the next generation. Together, we can do this, and I truly believe, make a real difference to these young people’s futures.”
The findings report, Young people and Covid-19: How the pandemic has affected careers experiences and aspirations, is available here