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Black youth future prospects 'worst affected by Covid-19'

Ethnicity has a significant affect on how the pandemic will impact future prospects for young people, according to a new report.

The research found that young Black people are among the hardest hit in terms of prospects, with their education and employment being disproportionately affected.

The report, published by Clearview Research Ltd, found that young people who identify as Black Caribbean are more likely to have been furloughed due to Covid-19 compared to other ethnic groups, and young people who are Black Caribbean or Asian Pakistani are more likely than other ethnic groups to have had their working hours reduced.

Commissioned by The Blagrave Trust and co-produced with Leaders Unlocked, the report surveyed more than 1,000 young people aged 16-25 years across England, examining the impact of Covid-19 on employment, education and training.

Researchers found that even before the pandemic, young people from Black and minority ethnic communities often felt discriminated against based on their ethnicity when they were looking for a job. Now, with a reduction in the opportunities available due to Covid, they expect that this discrimination will get
worse.

Socioeconomic factors also play a part in the pandemic’s impact on future prospects. The study revealed that those who were already struggling financially before Covid-19 have been more severely affected than those who were more financially secure.

Young people feel that worrying about finances is going to be a big barrier to moving forward with their careers after this crisis passes.

Yana is Black Caribbean and is a 22-year-old working mum from London. In an interview for the study, she explained just how hard the pandemic has made her everyday life.

‘Covid has made it harder to get employment and closed down opportunities and made it very difficult to be a working mum especially as a lot of nurseries have closed down and because of social distancing,’ says Yana.

‘Ideally, I would like to be able to work and be in my child’s life. You have to make a decision as a mum; you either give your child to someone else to look after, or you look after them yourself, and don’t have as much money.’

However, the report also found that young people demonstrate resilience as a result of the pandemic.

Despite challenges, young people are actively looking for ways to overcome challenges and adapt to their new environment. Over half of young people in England (58%) say they would like to become an entrepreneur.

And young people who have faced discrimination based on their age, ethnicity or colour are more likely to have considered entrepreneurship, with young Black Brits (42%) more likely than young white people to have thought of a business idea. 

Researchers suggest that experience with discrimination could be influencing their reasoning for considering entrepreneurship, as research shows those who have faced discrimination based on age, ethnicity, colour or gender are more likely to have a side hustle; work outside a main job or education to generate alternative income.

But the realities for mental health are not so encouraging. 35% of young people in England have experienced mental health issues due to Covid, and this figure is far higher for those facing other challenges.

Young people who have experienced sexual discrimination, either due to gender (54%) or sexual orientation (70%), are more likely to experience mental health problems during this time.

In fact, young women are 1.5 times more likely to have experienced mental health issues because of Covid (43%) compared to men (28%), and young people who identify as disabled are almost three times more likely.

Regionally, the study revealed a large disparity with young people living in Yorkshire, Humber and East Midlands, as results show that they are more likely to experience mental health issues due to Covid – at 55% compared to England’s 35% average.

‘If we are genuinely going to improve employment and prospects for young people during and after the Covid-19 crisis, we need to start by working with young people directly to empower them to give voice to their experiences and aspirations,’ says Dr Niamh McGarry, research director at ClearView Research.

‘Development of an information hub that shares information with young people about all the opportunities available to them, life skills training and more mental health support are among some of the recommendations we saw our young people suggest and we hope to see these begin to take place in the coming new year.’

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