‘Heartbreaking’: Job market squeezed on all sides by virus

PUBLISHED: 09:39 12 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:39 12 August 2020

Harry House of Swarm Apprentices (inset) on a lost generation of workers. Picture: Archant/Swarm

Harry House of Swarm Apprentices (inset) on a lost generation of workers. Picture: Archant/Swarm


Experts are warning that those at both ends of the labour economy – joining the workforce and getting ready to leave it – have been the worst hit by the coronavirus.

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has said this week that the UK risks seeing a “lost generation” on the horizon with more than 800,000 young workers due to enter a “barren jobs market”.

Just days later a figures showed that nearly 200,000 people over the age of 50 have dropped out of the workforce and become economically inactive since the Covid-19 outbreak.

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In recent months economic inactivity among over-50s than any other age group, said jobs and community site Rest Less.

In Norwich more than 8,000 people are now on the claimant count for July – up 3.7pc from last year.

To support young people looking for work the CSJ has called on government to reinvent apprenticeships by excluding degree holders from accessing apprenticeship funds to undertake a degree-level apprenticeship.

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It also suggested introducing a concessionary scheme to help disadvantaged apprentices meet their travelling costs.

The idea was welcomed by Harry Harris, the group chief commercial officer for community interest company Swarm Apprentices and attached recruitment firm SwarmBe.

The Wymondham-based team has seen double the number of people applying for apprenticeship roles than before lockdown, and welcomed some of the CSJ’s suggestions.

“The suggestion of concessions for travel is really important in rural areas. Although we’re a national company our eye is largely on Norfolk and Suffolk and when we talk to young people accessibility is often a bit thing holding them back,” he said.

The Golden Triangle’s Laura Wicks is having similar heartbreak having been made redundant because of the virus.

She said: “It’s heart-breaking. The problem is that agencies and businesses can’t pick between people because of experience because there are so many candidates applying for roles who all have good experience.”

Ms Wicks added: “I don’t know how much of it is down to my age. I think a lot of people see an age and assume the candidate may be something they’re not.

“I just love working with people and helping them, which is why I’m applying for office and customer-facing roles.

“I’d like to be in an office or on the phone helping people with their queries and have a lot of experience doing that.”

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