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Covid–19: Local responses to youth unemployment and scarring

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Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the UK economy. The evidence from previous recessions is that unemployment tends to rise more sharply for young people. Periods of unemployment when young, especially during recessions, can have long-lasting impacts on young people’s future labour market outcomes and on wider issues such as health and quality of life. These long-run effects are often referred to as ‘scarring’.

Young people have been particularly severely affected during the current recession as they are more likely to be employed in the sectors that have been hardest hit by Covid-19. Young people are also at risk because they have less work experience, are more likely to work in temporary or part-time work and have more limited financial assets. Looking forward, many more young people who are currently in work are likely to be laid off if the economy worsens and others that were until recently in school, college or university will struggle to find work as they join the labour market. 

Local areas are looking to understand how they can help prevent youth scarring in their area, by utilising local knowledge, relationships or networks. Approaches are likely to be constrained to re-deploying existing resources and provision and to increasing the take-up and effectiveness of national schemes. To inform this response, this paper draws on a rapid review of the evaluation evidence and some general guidelines on designing effective policy responses. Our aim is not to offer a comprehensive discussion of the current crisis, but to provide a concise summary of relevant evidence that tells us what has worked in the past and any lessons this holds for current local policy.

The paper covers:

  • Labour market performance and the national policy response
  • Evidence on supporting young people at transition points and things for local areas to consider
  • Evidence on tackling youth unemployment and things for local areas to consider


Covid-19: Local responses to youth unemployment and scarring