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4 minute read

Research shows more than 40% of young people put their career plans on hold due to pandemic

New research commissioned by BAE Systems to mark National Apprenticeship Week (8-14 February) has found that more than 40% of young people aged 16-24 surveyed in the UK say they are putting their career or education plans on hold until the pandemic is over.

From 2,007 respondents, a fifth (21%) say they are even more confused about their career path, with 20% of young people also stating the industry they had wanted to work in has been deeply impacted.

When asked what matters most to them in a career, almost a third (31%) of young people said continuous learning and the ability to develop their skill set is an important factor, reinforcing the need for flexible training and skills development, as set out by the government in its recent FE White Paper. Whilst wanting to earn a good salary (41%) topped the chart, jobs that provide stability and routine (30%) and a career that is future-proofed (25%) are key areas of concern.

More than 40% of young people aged 16-24 surveyed say they are putting their career or education plans on hold until the pandemic is over / Picture: BAE Systems


Respondents had clear views on the skills that they think will be most important to support their future long-term career plans, with soft skills ranking among the highest, including communication (35%), problem solving (31%) and team work (30%). With the pandemic highlighting the critical role of healthcare and education professionals, these industries came out top with young people believing they hold the best long-term career opportunities. Interestingly, nearly a third of respondents said the opportunity to make a difference to the world (30%) is important to them in a future career.

The top seven industries for long-term career opportunities are: healthcare (31%), education (20%), finance (14%), technology & digital (13%), engineering (13%), information technology (11%) and science (11%).

With more than half of young people (51%) now placing more importance on their career as a result of the pandemic, many are looking at what options are available to them when looking to enter the job market. Almost two thirds (63%) said they have or would consider an apprenticeship, of which, four in ten (41%) cited gaining experience in the working world as a key driver.

Engineering along with technology & digital are among the top industries which young people believe hold the best long-term career opportunities / Picture: BAE Systems


Richard Hamer, education and skills director at BAE Systems, said: “It’s clear that currently, the path for young people looking to enter the job market is extremely tough. The ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic are far reaching and have left students with greater uncertainty about their future. That’s why it’s important that those of us who can, must continue to create new opportunities for young people, working hand in hand with the government and wider industry, to make available options known to young people.

“Apprenticeships play a significant role, providing people with the necessary skills to work in highly specialised and technical industries. Through on-the-job learning of practical skills, the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals and the provision of support at every step of their training, apprenticeships can offer an entry into a long-term and successful career.”

Ben Marson, director of partnerships at The Prince’s Trust, added: “The pandemic continues to negatively affect young people’s employment prospects. At The Prince’s Trust, we know from our own research the impact unemployment can have on young people’s mental health and overall future. Our recent Youth Index report found that 60% of young people say that getting a new job feels “impossible now” because there is so much competition and 23% saying they don’t feel confident about their future work. It is absolutely crucial that we work with our corporate partners like BAE Systems to provide opportunities for young people to gain the skills and confidence for work, so they do not lose hope for their future.”

Almost two thirds of young people surveyed have or would consider an apprenticeship / Picture: BAE Systems


Louise Fairclough, a first year chartered management degree apprentice with BAE Systems, said: “I joined the company in January, having gone through the virtual recruitment process. Since then, I have been working from home and feel that despite the pandemic, my career has got off to a fantastic start. I have already had the opportunity to contribute to projects, including the Learner Voice survey which collects feedback from apprentices and helps the business to make informed decisions with regards to the running of its apprentice induction programme.

“I would recommend doing an apprenticeship, both to school and college leavers as well as anyone thinking about retraining. There are a wealth of opportunities provided right from the get-go and I have received a huge amount of support from the company.”

BAE Systems recently announced it will recruit more than 850 apprentices and 400 graduates in 2021, the highest intake in a single year. It has doubled the type of apprenticeship programmes on offer to more than 50, including options to study up to degree level.

Opportunities are available in a variety of roles including accountancy, human resources, electronic systems design, software development, joinery and mechanical fitting. With almost 10% of its current apprentices aged 25 and over, the programmes also offer a wide range of opportunities for people looking to retrain.

BAE Systems’ apprenticeship application window is open until 28 February 2021. For more information about the company’s early careers opportunities, visit:

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