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Young workers in Wales three times more likely to be employed in sectors where jobs are most at risk. Expansion of employment support schemes vital to tackle the threat of long-term unemployment.

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

The analysis compares Covid-19-related unemployment risk across industrial sectors and looks at the age profile of workers in those sectors.

All workers are facing heightened unemployment risk, but the highest risk sectors are ‘accommodation and food’ and ‘arts, entertainment and recreation’. 

Young workers 

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

  • Of 195,000 workers in Wales aged 25 and under, 41,000 work in either accommodation and food, or arts, entertainment and recreation.
  • It means that 21% of workers aged 25 and under work in these two sectors, compared to 6% for workers older than 25.
  • Workers aged 25 and under are therefore three 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 harder for young people seeking to enter the labour market for the first time, as employers hire less. This in part explains why youth unemployment tends to be much higher than for other workers following a recession. 

Job vacancies across the UK have already fallen 25% compared to this time last year. And the sector with the biggest fall is accommodation and food (42%).

Call for government action 

Governments – both in Wales and at a UK-level - 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.

The Wales TUC is also calling on the Welsh Government to invest further in employment support programmes and expand schemes that support young workers such as Jobs Growth Wales. 

Wales TUC Acting General Secretary Shavanah Taj said:

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

“Our national recovery plan must be centred on good quality jobs, that are inclusive, equitable and reflective of the diverse working population of Wales – both protecting those we have and creating more.  We need more good jobs in social care, in the green tech that our future depends on, and in a revitalised manufacturing sector, across the whole supply chain.

“Some industries may need help for longer through the job retention scheme so they can retain staff while they adapt to new safety standards.

“And for those who lose their jobs, we want to see more support. Young people in particular can’t be left to the misery of long-term unemployment. Schemes like Jobs Growth Wales have a proven track record of success and its vital that we ensure that help is there for those that need it.   

“Making sure everyone has a decent job on a fair wage is how to 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: 

- Impact of coronavirus crisis on young workers: Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that employees under 25 are about two and a half times as likely as other workers to work in a sector that is currently shut down.   

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.