A large group of young people marked by the pandemic period are currently entering the labor market. The economic recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has affected young workers much more severely than representatives of other age groups, according to an analysis commissioned by the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.
Statistically, at the end of February 2021, more than 285,000 young people under the age of 30 were registered with labor offices. This is more than 18% more than a year earlier, according to published data from the Central Statistical Office. In February 2021, nearly 138,000 young people were officially unemployed – a fifth more than a year earlier. The number of unemployed school and college graduates also increased by more than 13% year-on-year. This phenomenon is undoubtedly related to the specifics of the long-term crisis – deep epidemic restrictions.
Thanks to a survey conducted in 2021 by PwC, Well.hr and Absolvent Consulting among students and university graduates, the following conclusions have been drawn:
- According to half of young Poles (48.7%), the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected their chances in the job market.
- When deciding to apply for an offer, 68.9% of candidates check the solutions implemented by the company during the pandemic.
- Access to remote work is a mandatory benefit for 33.7% of respondents.
- However, 56% of young people want to work from the office. A hybrid work model is a solution to help reconcile the preferences and needs of both groups.
- Professional success is still a passionate job for 36.3% of respondents. However, compared to 2020, slightly fewer people understand success this way (50.5%).
- Young people’s financial expectations have increased compared to last year – the median financial expectation is now PLN 4,500 net.
- For 74.2% of respondents, the preferred form of contract is an employment contract. This is an increase
compared to last year. In a turbulent world, the need for job security is growing.
It should be noted that young workers are much more likely than others to work in the most vulnerable segments of the economy. As many as 30% of active young people in Poland work in sectors that were directly affected by pandemic restrictions. These sectors include the hotel industry, food services, tourism, as well as trade. The closure of schools was also not insignificant, as it limited opportunities for young people to further their education. In addition, the reduction in the number of jobs and working hours has led to a significant drop in income. According to a study by economists Hannes Schwandt (Northwestern University) and Till von Wacther (UCLA), the initial difficulty of entering the labor market during a recession results in significantly lower wages and more limited promotions, up to 15 years into the future.
It should be borne in mind that most EU countries responded to the problems of young people in the labor market early in the pandemic, targeting this group with measures to support them in keeping and finding jobs, improving learning opportunities in the workplace and preventing social exclusion. In Poland, the Career of Tomorrow program, co-financed by European funds, has been announced to combat the effects of the pandemic. It is 13 million zlotys for internships that will benefit 1,200 young people. The program is aimed at young Poles whose situation on the labor market is particularly difficult. Preferential access to internships was given to, among others, people with disabilities, those living in smaller urban centers and villages, and those who lost their jobs during the pandemic. The project is also fully open to young people from Ukraine who have fled to Poland from the ongoing war. They will be able to acquire a new profession thanks to a specially designed path in Ukrainian.
In addition, support for young people to enter the labor market during the pandemic period was evident from the side of employers. The needs of the young were treated by entrepreneurs as opportunities to implement new technological solutions, allowing not only widespread remote work, but also remote recruitment and training.
According to a survey by CIONET, Deloitte and VWMare, up to 88% of large and medium-sized companies in Poland plan to increase the possibility of remote work on a permanent basis. A focus on investing in digital tools and remote work can help young people from smaller towns and cities. This potential leveling of the playing field through more widespread technology-enabled business would be particularly important in Poland, where young people from smaller centers report poorer access to jobs that are suitable for them and to job training.
Now, in order to help the young cope with the effects of the pandemic on their development and career start, it is more necessary than ever to secure opportunities for access to vocational training and courses especially in terms of skills needed in the sectors least affected by the pandemic. It is important to point out that it is crucial to place a strong emphasis on the continued development of those who want to develop, but also to make it possible for young people, to obtain financial resources and support for self-development. It is important to continue to introduce new tools to provide young people with knowledge and practical skills that will contribute to their empowerment in the labor market, which will allow them to find jobs more easily.
Deloitte and Coca-Cola’s #YouthAtVote report