A new survey has found that almost a quarter of the North East’s 16-24-year-old’s (21%) are concerned they will lose their job during the economic downturn caused by Coronavirus.

The nationwide study, commissioned by Newcastle-headquartered awarding organisation and educational services charity, NCFE, saw over 2,000 young people asked a series of questions about their education and skills. It also revealed that:

• 45% of young people in the North East cite ‘lack of confidence’ as the thing holding them back from progressing in their careers
• 28% feel like they don’t have the opportunities or don’t know what it is they want to do next.
• 29% of North East respondents who are currently out of work stated that they felt it would be harder to find a job during the economic downturn.
• 25% felt they had not been taught the skills in school or college which they needed for their future work, life and career.
• A further 18% said that they felt they lacked the general business skills required to help them secure employment.

Despite this, a significant proportion of young, work-ready Brits are determined to improve their prospects by upskilling themselves. 22% said they would benefit from additional education now with an even greater proportion responding that they would love to earn new qualifications.

In light of the findings, NCFE have launched their ‘Go the Distance’ programme, which has been designed with colleges, trainer providers and other partners. The initiative aims to create bespoke programmes of skills-based study for learners aged 16-19 and support young people into the world of work. To find out more about NCFE’s Go the Distance programme, visit https://www.ncfe.org.uk/go-the-distance.

David Gallagher, Chief Executive at NCFE, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the nation’s workforce, particularly its youngest members, and it’s clear that in the months to come we will face a youth employment challenge unlike any we have seen.

“The long-term, scarring impact of youth unemployment is well understood. Young people who experience long-term unemployment are more likely to be employed in semi-skilled and unskilled occupations when they do re-enter the labour market; and, are likely to suffer a negative impact on earnings over the duration of their working life.

“Our challenge is to support young people to train, find and progress in work in spite of the current context. We want to prevent a generation of young people suffering the long-term effects that we know are associated with a prolonged period of youth unemployment.

“It is clear that the road to recovery in the aftermath of Covid-19 will be long and arduous,” David added.

“There is good reason to believe that, given the crutch of the furlough scheme, we have not yet seen the full impact the pandemic will have on employment levels. Upskilling and reskilling are being upheld as crucial to economic recovery, so it is encouraging to learn that so many young people would be open to further education and training.

“For our part, we will do all we can at NCFE to support young people to access high quality training programmes to provide them with the skills they need for success in the current economic context. By working together with colleges, training providers and partners through our ‘Go the Distance’ initiative – which aims to create bespoke programmes of skills-based study for learners aged 16-19, we will continue to support the region’s young people through months and years to come.

“While the challenge we face is undeniably huge, we believe that the further education sector possesses the passion, strategic insight and operational expertise required to overcome it.”