Crisis of confidence emerges as young people take the brunt of Covid-19 fallout

A new report comprising the personal experiences of 546 young people around the world indicates that job search confidence is alarmingly low. According to Talent's latest findings, job seekers aged 18-24 rated their confidence in finding a new job in the next six months an average of 4.8 out of 10.

Talent’s “More than a number” report was completed off the back of a global initiative to offer support and guidance to young people struggling in this time of crisis as part of Talent’s 25th anniversary on Friday, September 4. Talent’s entire global workforce dedicated a week to reach out and have conversations with young people impacted by Covid-19 and unemployment. 

“More than a number” details findings from the 546 conversations that were completed as part of this initiative. This initiative was run in conjunction with Talent’s charity Talent RISE that specialises in this field and offers education, training, work readiness programs, and job placement opportunities for young people who experience challenging barriers to employment.

The report revealed several key findings:

  • 65% of participants who registered to partake in this initiative have become unemployed in the past six months (coinciding with COVID-19).

  • 57% of young people's employment prospects have been impacted by Covid-19.

  • The economic impact of COVID-19 was named as the biggest barrier to employment young people are facing, followed by a lack of prior experience. 

  • Low confidence was a common theme amongst the conversations with callers ranking their confidence in their job search an average of 4.8 out of 10. 

  • Over 98% of participants were interested in further help and support from the Talent and Talent RISE teams when offered assistance with CV writing, interview prep, upskilling and potential job opportunities. 

Commenting on the “More than a number” report, Talent and Talent RISE founder and Executive Chairman Richard Earl said that there was a strong need for this kind of support in the youth community globally. 

“The biggest insight I drew from this initiative and subsequent report is that the majority of young participants, despite their education level or background, had experienced extreme difficulties in finding work and many indicated they were feeling that it was an almost an impossible task in this current climate. We might all be in the same storm but young people are in a different boat when it comes to the impacts of Covid-19."

“The findings from our conversations indicate that young people are facing a myriad of issues at the moment and many of these relate to unemployment. The low levels of confidence and the overwhelming desire from these young people to obtain more help from us shows that there is a huge lack of support for them out there. The long term impacts of ignoring this issue could be devastating, many studies show that if a young person isn't in meaningful employment by the age of 22, they're much more likely to face a future of welfare dependency.”

Direct quotes from the young people Talent spoke to indicate the immense challenge of looking for work during the current climate:

  • “I’ve been searching but didn't get even a single interview or call. I don't know what's wrong with me or my resume. My immediate goal is to start working anyhow even with a less or no pay at all.” (22 years old, Sydney)

  • “One of the worst parts of the experience is the way in which potential employers treat applicants. More often than not, I will receive no correspondence from companies I have applied to. If I do hear back, it is usually a blanket response with the key words ‘these are unprecedented times’, ‘we are inundated with applicants’, or ‘we received a strongly positive response’.” (25 years old, Auckland)

  • “I am currently unemployed, looking for a first job in the developing/tech industry but finding it difficult because I don’t hold a degree or previous work experience. I’ve been spending a lot of time learning through online courses and developing a portfolio because my dream is to become a professional web developer but I fear that there is no place to start at all because even when companies are hiring for junior roles, they still require previous experience. It’s scary to think that no matter how hard I try, it may all amount to nothing.” (22 years old, Sydney)

  • “I'd like to begin a career in IT, eventually going into cyber security. I've never really known what I want to do with my life but I have a direction now and I'm just having trouble getting into the industry as I don't have any official experience in the field.” (24 years old, Canberra)

  • “What's holding me back is a lack of exposure and experience which is one of the requirements to obtain a job. I need someone or training/exposure to make myself better, feel confident and get out of my shell more to be a well-rounded person and be work-ready. I'm also willing to try new field to gain more knowledge.” (21 years old, Melbourne)

“These are just some of the many young voices that are represented in the report reminding us that these aren’t numbers, they are human beings. Humans that represent our future workforce. We hope our findings help to put stories behind the statistics and shed light on a problem we all have a collective responsibility to solve”, Earl said.