Has Covid-19 left a ‘pandemic scar’ on young people?

18.06.2021

Борьба с пандемией выходит на финишную прямую. Во многих странах мира успешно идёт вакцинация, открываются офисы, кафе, музеи. Однако COVID-19 не пройдёт бесследным, оставив серьёзные последствия. Едва ли не больше всех от этих последствий страдают молодые люди, вынужденные прервать свою учёбу и столкнувшиеся с возросшей безработицей. Euractiv объясняет, какие угрозы для молодёжи таят последствия пандемии

The end is in sight. Restrictions are lifting and slowly but surely, we’re starting to feel ‘normal’ again. Across Europe and beyond, offices are starting to reopen, empty classrooms have welcomed back students, and spending time with family and friends is no longer limited to staring at each other on a screen.

We are on the path to recovery; safe in the knowledge that vaccines are already making a difference. But for our societies and our young people, the process of healing is going to take a lot longer. If we don’t act quickly, the long-term consequences of this pandemic risk leaving a deeper scar. One that could have a lifelong impact on young generations.

New research from the European Youth Forum launched today, 17 June, has examined the deep social, economic, and also mental health challenges young people are facing as a result of the current crisis. The report, “Beyond Lockdown: The ‘Pandemic Scar’ on Young People”, analyses how the pandemic and lockdown measures have already severely affected young people’s work and income, education and learning, and mental health and wellbeing.

The results are striking. The report finds that despite young people being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, less than 1% of national COVID-19 economic policy responses in the EU and UK targeted young people. While policy measures mainly focused on occupational groups (like the self-employed), the figure of 1% is still less than any other social group, including parents, children, or older people.

This gap in targeted measures for young people is alarming. When looking at the rise in unemployment, one of the major impacts of Covid-19, young people were among those worse affected. As one young research participants told us:

“Students were the first to get fired because the owners were keener on firing young people than those who are in higher functions, management.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, Eurostat estimated the youth unemployment rate in the EU has risen from 14.9% to 17.1%. Worryingly, our report found that nearly half (49.0%) of young people who were not in education, employment or training said they were not aware of the support services offered by the government to help them find a job. This concerning figure is also echoed in a Eurofound study of unemployed people of all ages in the EU-27, which identified that well over half of people did not receive any official financial support since the outbreak of COVID-19.

Feelings of stress, uncertainty and financial instability were not limited to those who lost their job. Alongside those young people who experienced job losses, some of those still in work also experienced loss of income. In the survey, more than one in four (28.0%) young workers indicated their income had decreased or decreased substantially since the onset of the pandemic. This figure was higher amongst young people in marginalised situations (31.6%). Given that young people already tend to be paid lower wages than other age groups, this change in income can have serious consequences.

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