Debate: Have young people been hardest hit by lockdown

25th September 2020

For the City A.M. debate, Sean Farrington of tech skills firm Pluralsight and Tony Hughes of public sector software company Civica look into whether young people have borne the brunt of the pandemic.

This article first appeared in City A.M. in September 2020.

Tony Hughes, executive director of local government at Civica, says NO

It is our over-70s that have become more isolated and therefore hit hardest by the lockdown.While we cannot ignore the mental health and social impacts for our younger generation missing education and not seeing friends, it is the forgotten generation (our over-70s) that are most at risk of being left behind.

According to a recent study, older people are becoming less cognitive as a direct result of lockdown. In addition to the clear dangers the virus presents to the over 70s, the Office for National Statistics also found that this age group was twice as likely to report anxiety during the lockdown compared to young people.

We often forget it is the elderly who become the most isolated during a crisis. There have been great use cases of technology keeping people safe and connected, and our own research, A Word from the Wise, found that the over 70s are using technology and have an appetite to engage. But as technology advances, it is this age group that needs more support.

As we move out of Covid-19 restrictions, a priority must be to ensure older people are aware of and can access vital communications and online services, especially with further local lockdowns and the very real threat of a second wave.

Sean Farrington, senior vice president for EMEA at Pluralsight, says YES

Young people have been disproportionately affected by lockdown, with the International Labour Organisation finding that 23% of under 25s in the UK workforce were furloughed and 9% lost their jobs entirely. Even for those still employed, there has been a 23% decrease in working hours on average.

Students in particular are facing significant challenges, missing out on months of face-to-face education. It is likely that neither work nor education will ever be the same again, but an increased focus on access to online learning provides people of all ages with the opportunity to continue to expand knowledge, fill skills gaps and be in the best possible position to take on job roles for the future.

The pandemic has brought a greater demand for technology skills than ever, and an increase in top grades for computing is a positive sign for the future of our tech sector. Using online learning to continue to nurture and develop this pipeline of tech talent will be key, as will tailoring learning to individuals’ needs.

A Word from the Wise

We believe that by working together, technology can improve public services for everyone. So we took the time to listen to the over 70s in our community. This is what they said...

Find out more