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• Young workers in South West are four times more likely to work in sectors where jobs are most at risk
• Government must introduce a job guarantee scheme to prevent the misery of long-term unemployment

New analysis published today (Friday) by the TUC shows that young workers (aged 25 and under) in the South West face the highest risk of unemployment due to the coronavirus crisis. 


This is because there are more young people working in sectors disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.

The TUC are calling for a job guarantee scheme that brings more good jobs into the region and avoids the misery of long-term unemployment.

With 83,000 young workers currently at high risk, the South West TUC says this scheme is a “no-brainer.”


Sectors at highest risk 

According to the new analysis, the two sectors most affected by far are ‘accommodation and food’ and ‘arts, entertainment and recreation’ – with figures far exceeding the next most affected sector (construction).


All these sectors employ large numbers of younger workers who now face long-term unemployment due to the coronavirus crisis and the recession that is expected to follow.


Both sectors contribute considerably to the income of the region. The South West TUC has expressed particular concern for rural towns and communities, whose tourism and cultural industries are key to the success of the region, and have been badly affected.  

  Measures of risk
Sector Workforce furloughed Businesses pausing trading Businesses with turnover falling more than 50%
Accommodation and food 83% 74% 62%
Arts, entertainment and recreation 73% 75% 63%
Construction industries 41% 19% 40%
Average for all industries 28% 18% 26%

 NB - this table shows selected UK data from the analysis. For a full table covering all sectors, see research note. 

Young workers in the South West

The analysis suggests that, without urgent action, the South West may be on the brink of a surge in youth unemployment.

  • A quarter (23%) of all workers aged 25 and under in the South West work in accommodation and food, or arts, entertainment and recreation – compared to 6% for workers older than 25.
  • That equates to 83,000 young workers in the region working in the two most affected sectors alone.
  • South West workers aged 25 and under are therefore four times more likely to work in one of the two sectors where jobs are at greatest risk. 

In addition to lay offs, recessions make it much harder for young people seeking to enter the labour market for the first time, as employers are doing much less hiring. This is part of the reason why youth unemployment following a recession tends to be much higher than for other workers.

Businesses are currently in survival mode; the government must get ahead of the coronavirus impact before it’s too late.

Job guarantee scheme

The TUC is calling for a job guarantee scheme to stop those without work becoming long-term unemployed, with early access to the scheme for young workers.

It would resemble the future jobs fund, which was part of the national recovery plan following the recession in 2008 that helped boost jobs and reduce rising unemployment.

Key features of the TUC’s proposed jobs guarantee scheme:

  • Supports additional jobs that would not otherwise be created by employers
  • Enables work that benefits the South West, such as helping to decarbonise the economy
  • Offers secure contracts of at least six months
  • Pays at least the real Living Wage
  • Gives training opportunities to help people move into longer-term work
  • Provides guaranteed access to trade union representation

Alongside the job guarantee scheme, the TUC says that government must work with businesses and unions to protect as many jobs as possible. This should include extending the job retention scheme for employers who cannot easily adapt to social distancing. 


And ministers should form a regional recovery council alongside unions and employers, to design and deliver a recovery plan that protects and creates decent jobs.


Regional Secretary for the TUC South West Nigel Costley said: 

"We know it's a tough road ahead. But the more people in work, the faster we can work our way out of recession.

“Our regional recovery plan must be centred on good jobs – both protecting those we have and creating more. We need more jobs in social care, in green tech that our future depends on, in UK start-ups and more jobs in a revitalised manufacturing sector.

“Businesses are currently in survival mode; the government must get ahead of the coronavirus impact before it’s too late. We can’t let our young people be left to the misery of long-term unemployment.

 “A job guarantee scheme is a no-brainer. It will help thousands of people who end up losing their job because of the coronavirus.

“If we make sure everyone has a decent job on a fair wage, we can recover faster and build back better."

Editors note

- Full TUC analysis: The full analysis on which this release is based can be found in the research note linked to here.

- The new TUC analysis uses three measures to assess risk:
(1) the rate of furloughed workers,
(2) the proportion of businesses that have paused or cancelled trading, and
(3) the proportion of businesses with turnover plummeting more than 50%.

Job Guarantees Report: The TUC report ‘A new plan for jobs - why we need a new jobs guarantee’ can be found here.

Net benefits from the Future Jobs Fund (FJF): DWP’s evaluation of FJF in 2012 showed that overall, the programme was associated with net benefits to the employer (£6,850) and the participant (£4,000).
The cost to the Exchequer per participant was £3,100, so the net benefit to society was £7,750 per participant. 
Two years after starting in the scheme, participants were 16% less likely to need welfare support, and 27% more likely to be in unsubsidised employment. 


Research on young workers and long-term unemployment:  A study by the University of Bristol identified that prolonged periods of unemployment can negatively impact people’s experience of the labour market later on in life in the form of lower wages and higher unemployment rates. It shows that these impacts are especially significant for young people who experience long-term unemployment compared with people who experience it later on in life. 

About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

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