Amid the turmoil of the current pandemic, young people have once again emerged as one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. While generally considered less physically at risk from the coronavirus – unlike the over 65s, for whom it poses a significant danger – they’ve been some of the hardest hit by the economic fallout.  

Research by thinktank Resolution Foundation shows that 1 in 3 young people have been furloughed or lost their jobs completely because of the virus, and over 1 in 3 have had their pay reduced since the crisis started. We could see an additional 600,000 18-24-year-olds pushed into unemployment throughout the coming year. 

The reasons for this are multifold and complex. Many young people are new to the labour market and don’t yet have the seniority or experience to protect them from layoffs. At the same time, a large number are employed in the sectors most severely affected by the lockdown – such as leisure, retail and hospitality.

Evidence from previous recessions also suggests that those graduating during a financial downturn are more likely to earn less in the first few years, with many finding themselves stuck in low-paid jobs for the long term. As the economy shrinks, competition for each position becomes fiercer as there are fewer jobs available. Indeed, the number of jobs advertised for university leavers has fallen to a quarter of the level at the start of the year, according to jobs site Adzuna.

Those who might have considered further education or temporary work abroad now find themselves at a disadvantage. With international travel currently limited and universities facing severe disruption, many people will find themselves forced into looking for jobs prematurely. 

All of this can take a massive toll on mental health. For some, the mass uncertainty will manifest itself as anxiety and even depression. The precariousness of the situation is unlike anything anyone has experienced before and so it’s of paramount importance that young people can access support. Underpinning this will be the work of the Government, employers and charities across the UK – but there’s a great deal that young people themselves can do to build resilience in the face of adversity and set themselves up for success in their career.

Weighing up your options and preparing yourself for success

The key is to not see the current situation as a barrier to your success. Focus on what you can control and make informed decisions based on your own circumstances. There may be fewer jobs at the moment, but the economy will bounce back and you need to prepare yourself for this by building your skillset and work experience. Consider what’s available to you. If you live at home, could you take up an internship? If you need money to pay for your outgoings, have you considered temporary work? Competition for vacancies will be fierce so make sure you're ready when the job you want does come up. Most successful job seekers will be the ones who prepare thoroughly, stand out from the crowd, are highly visible and who maintain their energy and focus throughout. Read our top tips on building your personal brand, networking and staying positive.

Don’t lose sight of what you’ve already accomplished and never lose that sense of possibility. You might have to make peace with not landing your dream job now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not achievable in the future. Perspective is essential. Consider side stepping into another sector, even temporarily; some industries are showing strong growth – for example, education, health, care work and logistics. Most jobs will have transferable skills that will stand you in good stead for your chosen career, and you might even find yourself flourishing in a career you hadn’t even thought about until now.

For accountants, many see the first few years as potential pigeon-holing moments. This needn’t be the case. Look at this period as a time of growth – and bide your time. This isn’t a race. All of that hard work wasn’t for nothing. It might be that promotions aren’t as readily handed out as before but think about how much more confident and capable you’ve become throughout your exams and training. 

Finally, think carefully about further education. Some university leavers struggling to find work are considering enrolling in a postgraduate degree instead. This can be a great move for some, however, continuing your studies doesn’t always improve earnings prospects, and could simply end up lumping you with extra debt.

Tackling debt

Many recent graduates and young workers start out their careers with varying levels of debt. For some, this is carried over from their university days, while for others, the pressure of socialising with friends and colleagues and the costs of living away from home, often in cities where the costs of living are higher, can take its toll on their bank balance. This can be a source of severe worry.

The good thing is, that from our experience younger people are more willing to talk about their financial troubles. Opening up about financial worries is proven to improve your wellbeing, and can help you break down many of the barriers that are stopping you from moving forward. 

Knowing your income, expenditure and disposable income once your day-to-day expenses are covered, will give you confidence in your decisions and help you to create a budget

Tackling any outstanding debts you owe during this time might seem a daunting prospect but it’s okay to ask for help. There are constructive and positive steps you can take to work your way towards becoming debt free.

Look for the positives

Remember, you don’t have to struggle alone. CABA offers free counselling, career coaching, financial assistance and debt advice.

Contact us today.

Written by Paul Day, Support Officer at CABA

Paul Day is one of CABA’s debt support officers, providing assistance and support to Chartered Accountants in financial difficulty. He is a certified member of the Institute of Money Advisers, having completed his certificate in Money Advice Practice in 2013.

CABA provides lifelong support to past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff, and their close family members.

If you’re worried about the impact of the coronavirus on you and your family, find out how CABA can support you.

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