‘Generation Covid’ have much to offer; let’s harness their energy – Sharon Davies

it is time to inspire the Covid generation, writes Sharon Davies.it is time to inspire the Covid generation, writes Sharon Davies.
it is time to inspire the Covid generation, writes Sharon Davies.
THE economic impact of Covid-19 has hit young people disproportionately hard.

In fact, in the first three months of the pandemic alone, a third of young employees aged 18-24 lost their jobs or were furloughed, compared to one in six older adults, according to the Resolution Foundation.

Young people in Yorkshire appear to be particularly hard-hit by the economic impact of the pandemic.

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As of August, some 8.4 per cent of young people in Yorkshire were unemployed, compared to 7.4 per cent nationally, according to research from the Centre for Cities thinktank.

Sharon Davies is CEO of Young Enterprise.Sharon Davies is CEO of Young Enterprise.
Sharon Davies is CEO of Young Enterprise.

As these statistics demonstrate, 
young people are feeling the economic impact of the pandemic to a disproportionate extent – but it would be dangerous and unfair to dismiss Generation Covid, as young people
are being called, as a ‘lost generation’ entirely.

In our work at Young Enterprise, we have seen first-hand the way that young people around the country have responded to the crisis.

This is not with despondence or by giving up, but being resourceful, creative and showing huge amounts of adaptability in the face of the challenge.

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Whether this has been supporting frontline workers, campaigning for social justice or starting their own businesses, many young people we work with have found ways to adapt and respond to the changing situation.

The ingenuity of young people should be admired, writes Sharon Davies.The ingenuity of young people should be admired, writes Sharon Davies.
The ingenuity of young people should be admired, writes Sharon Davies.

This attitude is embodied in the response to the A-level results fiasco earlier this year. Rather than seeing students sit back and accept their fate, we saw them demonstrate great courage and campaign for change.

This is the kind of mindset that will be crucial to the UK building itself out of the recession.

With a second lockdown being imposed from today, young people would be forgiven for feeling defeated and that they have been one of the hardest hit through Covid. 

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However, it is up to all of us – parents, teachers, business and government – to support and empower this generation with the mindset and the skills they need to succeed in the current and future climate.

As new industry sectors emerge, 
while some strengthen and others retract, we must equip young people 
with an education that goes beyond traditional academics, one that enables them to be curious and adapt to a changing situation – and to encourage this mindset, an entrepreneurial education is key.

A young entrepreneur from the North recently mentioned to me that becoming an entrepreneur was simply too risky for many working-class young people and their parents.

However the world is changing and steady 9am-5pm jobs and salaries are no longer a basic expectation. The need for an entrepreneurial education extends beyond schools – businesses have a key role to play, too.

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By working with young people across the country to boost their confidence and equip them with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace early on, business leaders play an important role in developing the next generation and the enterprising mindset that young people will need to help drive economic recovery in the long term.

Far before the pandemic hit, we were already facing a problem with social inequality across the country, and if we do not act now, we will only see that problem deepen.

We all know that social mobility begins with education, and in the current climate, it is more important than ever that we dispel the myth that young people are a ‘lost generation’ and create a level playing field where all young people are empowered to develop the mindset to succeed.

The way we talk about young people matters, and for young people in Yorkshire and across the country, we 
owe it to them to change the way we talk about Generation Covid.

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Instead of telling young people they 
are a lost generation and cannot succeed in the current climate, let’s acknowledge the challenge, but also engage them directly.

Celebrate their strengths – the innovations coming to light, the way young people have developed a new mindset and adapted to the pandemic, and the extraordinary things they will go on to achieve.

Sharon Davies is CEO of 
Young Enterprise.

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