By Kate Still

OVER the past three months we have all, and rightly so, made sacrifices to protect older people in our society. Now, as the employment and skills market takes the brunt of the fall-out from Covid-19, we need to focus on our young people – their future is everyone’s responsibility.

The untold impact the economic crisis could have on young workers and those in education, puts children and young adults at risk of becoming a forgotten generation.

That is why I welcomed Benny Higgins’ economic recovery report and especially the recognition that supporting the needs of young people is critical to economic recovery and building a better future for Scotland. The Kickstart scheme announced by The Chancellor is another encouraging step that will provide vital opportunities to unemployed young people in the difficult time ahead.

Whilst the new schemes will be managed by the business community, it is essential to their success that our expertise in the third sector is included.

The impact of unemployment can be harsh and lasting, and it is essential that all sectors come together to take action. We cannot allow this crisis to cripple the aspirations and prospects of our nation’s younger generation.

Our research with YouGov, Young People in Lockdown, heard directly from 16 to 25-year olds living through lockdown and paints a truly stark picture of how this crisis is impacting the younger generation. This report was published at a time when the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) revealed that young people are nearly two and a half times as likely to work in a sector which has shut down due to social distancing measures.

During the last recession Scotland demonstrated a world class response by investing in employment support, particularly targeting the young and most vulnerable, to avoid the lifelong scarring effects of unemployment. It is vital that we do this again.

At The Prince’s Trust, we have been working tirelessly over the last three months to ensure that no one is left behind. We have forged initiatives and schemes geared towards ensuring our future workforce do not lose hope or temper aspirations. We help young people to build confidence and skills, and support them into jobs, education, and training. We work tirelessly, seven days a week both online and in person, providing crucial support to every young person who gets in touch.

But we cannot do it alone.

We know the importance of youth work going forward as we work to overcome the inevitable economic and social implications that this pandemic has brought. But if we want to contain the potential catastrophic impact, we need to work collaboratively.

We must build on past success and new insights, by bringing together the combined expertise and energy of the private, public and third sectors. Consequently, we can create new education, skills, training, and job opportunities, that align with investment in exciting growth sectors.

Nobody knows what is around the corner. The economic tough times may be just beginning, but we must remain resolute as we work together to preserve a better future for us all. Together, we can provide the support young people so desperately need to overcome the challenges they are facing, both during this emergency and on the other side.

It is up to all of us to give a lifeline to a generation of young people.

Kate Still is Director, The Prince’s Trust in Scotland