Youth unemployment, precarity and civil society: devolved policy and its implications for the young post-COVID-19

Presented by Sioned Pearce

This presentation will focus on unemployment and precarity amongst the young across Western Europe in the wake of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. In the UK 14.5% of 16-24-year-olds are currently unemployed, up from 11.2% a year ago (the figure is 17.5% across the EU). The UK Government’s Kickstart Scheme and devolved policy responses such as the Scottish Youth Guarantee are going some way towards supporting young people, however, these are short term and reactive measures likely to soften, but not avert, an inevitable future rise in unemployment and the more serious long term implications for young people.

Drawing on devolved policy narratives and empirical data from civil society organisations, responses to the current crisis are framed using Europe-wide typologies of youth policy and employment regimes. The framework is applied to the four countries of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – and their different policy contexts. The analysis highlights significant differences in devolved policy approaches to the current youth unemployment crisis and, to a lesser extent, variation in civil society approaches on the ground. The findings are preliminary and precede more in-depth fieldwork to take place this year, but nevertheless reveal interesting patterns within and between the four UK nations.

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