Issue date
  • New ONS data confirms that young workers in Wales have been hit hardest by the Covid crisis – with a 6.5 percentage point drop in the employment rate for 16-24 year olds since January 2020.
  • New Wales TUC/YouGov research has shown that tens of thousands of young workers in Wales believe they are treated unfairly on pay and have little say in workplace decisions.   
  • Wales TUC is calling on the new Welsh Government to work with unions to ensure that the Welsh economic recovery focusses on good quality jobs and empowering young workers.    
  • Call comes as the Wales TUC launches a new campaign to drive up union membership among young workers. 

The Wales TUC has called on the Welsh Government to focus its economic recovery strategy on ensuring that young workers in Wales can get access to good quality jobs and are empowered to assert their rights at work.

The union body has welcomed Welsh Labour’s pledge to deliver a Young Persons Guarantee of a place in work, education, training or self-employment for everyone in Wales under the age of 25. But it argues that the pledge must go further in ensuring that the young workers can avoid the poor quality and insecure jobs that characterised the recovery from the last recession.

The call came after new ONS data showed that the employment rate for 16-24 year olds is down 6.5 percentage points since the start of 2020. By contrast the rate for 35-49 year olds is unchanged.

In addition, a new Wales TUC/YouGov survey has demonstrated that tens of thousands of workers are facing unfair treatment and a lack of opportunity of work. The research found:

  • More than 1 in 3 say that they are not paid fairly at work.
  • 1 in 5 say that they wouldn’t be comfortable raising a work-related issue with their manager – the highest rate of any age group.
  • 1 in 3 say that that it is difficult for them to get the training that they need to progress their career.

The call to prioritise job quality for young workers comes as the Wales TUC launches a new campaign to address the low number of young people within the trade union movement. Fewer than 1 in 20 union members are aged between 16 and 24, and over half of union reps are 50 and over. The new Reaching Younger Workers toolkit aims to help unions effectively organise the next generation of workers.

Shavanah Taj, Wales TUC General Secretary, said:

“On every economic measure young workers paid a heavy price to protect the more vulnerable members of society over the last year. They have been more likely than any other age group to have lost their job, been put on furlough or seen their income cut.

“We owe it to them to make sure that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the last decade and don’t allow a further rise in low quality, insecure work. We want to work with the new Welsh Government to make sure that young people aren’t just being shunted into any old job but instead are able secure work with fair pay and conditions and where they are able to have their voices heard.

“There is also a massive challenge for unions in Wales. We know what a difference unions can make in the workplace. But the movement is facing a demographic cliff edge and we need to do a much better job of communicating with young workers. Our new Reaching Younger Workers toolkit aims to give union reps the support they need to make a difference.”

Editors note

ONS Data:  See the dataset here: X01 Regional labour market: Estimates of employment by age.

YouGov Wales TUC Data: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,194 adults. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in Wales (aged 16+).

About the Wales TUC: The Wales TUC exists to improve the economic and social conditions of workers in Wales, regardless of if they are currently in a job or not. Its mandate and purpose builds on the role of its individual affiliated trade unions. Workers join trade unions to represent their interests, and these unions affiliate to the TUC to establish a shared agenda, agreed democratically at a Congress held every two years and managed by the General Council which meets four times a year. Around 400,000 people are trade union members in Wales. The vast majority of these people are members of trade unions which are affiliated to the Wales TUC.


Joe Allen – Wales TUC

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