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Coronavirus may have wrecked the future of the nation’s under-25s, like my two sons

PUBLISHED: 10:49 02 July 2020 | UPDATED: 10:49 02 July 2020

Rachel sympathises with the thousands of under-25s who have seen their career or education plans put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic

Rachel sympathises with the thousands of under-25s who have seen their career or education plans put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic

Archant

Financial cuts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic have hit many people hard, not least the next generation. Rachel Moore has sympathy for the plight of the under-25s

My younger son turned 21 this week.

Like everyone else who’s had lockdown big birthdays, it wasn’t the celebration we might have planned. But that’s life. Dealing with disappointments is how life rolls.

But how being 21 should never roll, though, is looking forward to adulthood through a lens of the worst recession for 300 years.

Toasting his future with a limited party crowd, a feeling of being the biggest fraud swelled inside. Whatever future did he face now? How hard would his life, and that of his older brother, be stepping out into the world of work in a post-Covid economically-broken UK?

In the space of one trimester of a pregnancy, they are now to face building their adult lives in a totally different world.

The under 25s will be the worst hit by what’s to come – and we ain’t seen nothing yet – in the UK’s economic freefall.

This age group will be “disproportionately hit compared to other age groups and, with the murkiest financial mire the UK has been in for three centuries, not even the older ‘we had it tougher’ brigade can pipe up and call them “snowflakes”.

It’s difficult to process. They will be paying the price for years for keeping older people safe. Probably all their working lives. It doesn’t sound particularly kind to say it like that, but it’s fact.

They have played the game, obeyed the rules, stayed at home, when they were least at risk of coronavirus. The number of deaths among 20-odd year olds are no higher than any other year this year, in fact are likely to be lower at the end of the year because fewer people are out on the roads where most of this age group die.

Now they will be left with the burden for the rest of their adult lives and are now being spoken of as “the lost generation” because of the gloom and hardship ahead.

As a mother of two under 25s, watching the future of your pride and joy having ten tonnes of manure dumped on their future is sickening. There’s a difference between tough life and navigating the worst recession since the 1700s

In the last three months, son number two has already lost out on a key part of his education. A third-year university languages student on his year studying abroad in St Petersburg, in March he was loving life in a different country, getting to grips with the language, culture and day to day life in a country he’s been fascinated with for years.

He was looking forward to three more months of study and travelling the country, when he was told to book a flight and get home before borders closed.

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Since then he has been at home with me, his summer plans of working in Ecuador cancelled, completing online classes with his Russian tutors and waiting to find out what his fourth year would be like back at university.

Part-time jobs here are taken up by the already redundant or furloughed and soon to be redundant so young people don’t get a look in for jobs in retail. Even now, with hospitality and leisure opening up again, jobs are few and far between.

His brother in London, lucky enough to escape the redundancies at his company, is working for reduced pay at his kitchen table while his old university friend has started his new job from his bedroom. At least they are getting the experience and have a purpose, feeling useful

Life isn’t fair. No one can expect it to be, but these are among the generation that have had the least help from government.

Both chose to go to university, happy to take the loans because they believed in education. But is paying full whack for a reduced service for his fourth year right?

The saving grace for them is that they don’t worry about the future like their old mother.

Their attitude is totally different to our generation when owning homes, cars and being secure was an obsession and anything less was failing at life.

Now, that generation isn’t interested in ownership and accumulating stuff, mortgages or possessions.

We couldn’t wait to be homeowners. Now, so far out of their reach without a legacy for a deposit, their ambitions are very different. Now, they are all about experiences and doing rather than having.

They want to work doing something they enjoy because they’ll be doing it for so many years. Doing a job that earns biggest bucks even though they hate it and it bores them – like so many of my generation – simply doesn’t register.

Today, people talk about ‘getting back to normal’ with hospitality opening this weekend. But nothing will be ‘normal’ for years for our young people saddled with the long-term economic and social consequences of this pandemic impacting on them far harder than anyone else.

Economists say that early-career unemployment scars a person’s pay and prospects for years to come.

Already one-third of 18-24-year-olds have been furloughed or lost their primary job. Compared to less than 15 per cent of 35-44-year-olds

Youth unemployment could jump by 640,000 this year bringing the total number of unemployed 18-24-year-olds to over 1 million - the highest number of unemployed young people since before the data began in the early 1980s.

My plea to employers: Give these young people a chance, even if it is just for the experience. They’ve made the sacrifices, let’s help them rebuild.


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