Are the kids alright? The early careers of education leavers since the COVID-19 pandemic

A report that investigates the early careers of education leavers since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key findings:

  • Evidence from previous recessions tells us that young people who entered the labour market during downturns tended to experience worse career outcomes that took several years to recover from.
  • The cohort that graduated in 2020, particularly individuals with university degrees, initially saw worse outcomes on some measures. They struggled to find work three to six months after graduation.
  • However, the employment rates of the 2020 cohort had fully recovered nine to twelve months after graduation.
  • Other cohorts who entered the labour market during or just before the pandemic did not see slower occupational progression or have worse job quality, with one exception: those from disadvantaged backgrounds were more likely to be in the same job that they held at school or university.

The report concluded:

  • Despite the unprecedented shock to young people’s employment, hours worked and mental health in 2020 and early 2021, the IFS found no significant evidence of persistent negative effects. But did show that some cohorts graduating into recessions experience depressed employment rates and lower job quality for years to come.
  • It also seemed that the rapid economic recovery and the boom in job vacancies as the economy reopened had so far shielded the COVID-19 cohorts from persistently poorer outcomes.
  • The fact that significant harm had not been observed for the COVID-19 cohorts does not mean that they were unaffected throughout their careers. It is possible that gaps in outcomes between these cohorts and earlier cohorts would emerge over the next few years as the labour market became less tight if the relative lack of work experience and training of the COVID-19 cohorts put them at a disadvantage relative to other cohorts.

Read more here.