Coronavirus: Young people pushed towards 'on-the-job' learning to get on the career ladder

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A quarter of young people feel that in the current climate it is more important to get on the job ladder than get a degree, according to new research. Photo: Getty

Six-in-10 (61%) of Brits aged between 16 and 25 now feel that learning “on-the-job” is the best way of getting on the careers ladder as the coronavirus pandemic has pushed young people to look for faster and more secure ways to get jobs, according to new research.

Almost a third (63%) of 16-25s have seen their future educational plans impacted by the pandemic with 45% reconsidering attending university following COVID-19, the survey of 1,000 young people in the UK by financial software provider Intuit QuickBooks found.

With more than half a million young people are currently unemployed, an increase of 35,000 from the previous quarter, according to House of Commons Youth Unemployment Statistics from October, young Brits are leaning towards “on-the-job” learning.


Young people are most interested in jobs in the technology sector, with 59% of 16- to 25-year-olds citing tech as “offering particularly strong career opportunities.” Four-in-10 young people believe the technology sector is the most futureproof — the most likely to withstand changes over time.

Ben Brown, head of engineering at Intuit QuickBooks, said: “With COVID-19 causing economic uncertainty and driving unemployment levels, young people are increasingly looking for ways to fast-track onto the careers ladder.

READ MORE: More young workers in the UK lost their jobs during summer 2020 than in all of 2019

“And getting straight into the tech sector, which has proven to be resilient in the face of the pandemic, is particularly appealing. Technology, after all, is the fuel that has allowed many other sectors to continue operating.

“On-the-job learning is common in the tech sector, but to be a successful candidate, applicants need to demonstrate genuine interest and enthusiasm by having carried out their own independent learning. Employers can enable this by creating opportunities for young people to take part in free training courses and taster sessions, which helps them to gain valuable skills and decide if the sector is for them.”

The second most popular career option for young Brits is construction, with 27% considering the sector as a career path.

A quarter (26%) feel that in the current climate it is more important to get on the job ladder than get a degree, while 19% are put off from attending university because they are concerned about their safety in the face of COVID-19.

As the UK shifts towards remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, more than a quarter (28%) of 16- to 25-year-olds are intending to undertake an online degree instead of physically going to university.

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