The employment rate among young people fell last year, according to an official report, confirming the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the job prospects of the age group.
Between the first quarter of 2020 and the final three months, the employment rate among 16-to-24-year-olds fell by 2.6% to 51.9%, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The fall was partly explained by the imposition of lockdown restrictions which had “considerable” impact on industries with higher employment concentrations of young people, such as in wholesale and retail trade, accommodation and food services, said the ONS.
Young people were least likely to work from home partly because their employment tended to be concentrated in industries that had fewer opportunities for home working, the report said.
The study also found that young people have the largest proportion of workers on zero hours contracts compared with other age groups, peaking at 10.8% last summer.
The ONS also found that the proportion of young people in full-time education increased in the second half of 2020, reaching a new high of 46.8% in the quarter to September.
Young people’s labour mobility – moving from jobs – fell more during the pandemic compared with older age groups, added the report.
Dr Norbert Morawetz, founder of Classof2020, a not-for-profit initiative created to improve young people’s job prospects during the pandemic, commented: “Young people have suffered the worst of the damage to the jobs market, and we must make sure they are not left behind as we look towards an economic recovery.
“This latest research shows a collapse in employment rates beyond other age groups as unemployment and economic inactivity soared.”