It’s been highlighted by the ONS that 25- to 34-year-olds continued to have the highest number of claimants for furlough in both females and males (429,300 and 430,300 respectively) along with the under 18 age band, which had the highest take up rate for both females and males (at 41% and 30% respectively). Meaning that both Millennials and Generation Z have been hit the hardest with furlough since the pandemic started. With industries such as hospitality and retail the worst hit thanks to UK lockdown restrictions, this has affected many younger workers which these sectors rely on for their workforce – 46% of the hospitality and tourism sector workforce is staff under the age of 29.

Compounded by a shrunken job market, it leaves a question mark over how badly development and career opportunities for students have been affected. Many university courses ask for work experience to be carried out during the holidays, something that the majority of (if not all) employers would have avoided this year due to working from home. Many entry-level jobs – key to those fresh out of university to get a foot on the career ladder – were lost at the start of the pandemic, with workplaces economising and avoiding taking on additional staff due to the uncertainty of the situation.

So, what can Millennials and Gen Z do to support their career growth when the odds are stacked against them? LinkedIn is a great place to start when looking to support your personal and professional brand. Start by sharing informative articles and asking your audience to engage with you and share their opinions to get the conversation started. You can follow companies you are interested in working for and even invite senior business leaders and recruiters to connect if you are interested in working for them. Ask if they need any work experience support – your willingness to learn, initiative in reaching out and confidence in being direct could work in your favour.

Use your free time to learn something new by joining webinars or an online course to bolster your knowledge on something you’re interested in. PR and comms is a good industry to gain work experience in, with many transferrable skills for other job roles if it turns out that PR isn’t quite for you. During non-Covid times, Definition runs work experience placements for those wanting to gain industry experience. Last year, our client Astrid & Miyu launched a mentoring programme for small independent businesses wanting to establish their name in UK retail so looking out for schemes such as this that can help to develop your current skillset will make you attractive to potential employers and recruiters.

It might be a tough working environment out there, but as with any situation like the Covid pandemic we are experiencing, things will get better. For now, utilise your time well and learn skills that can support you in your future careers. Make the most of channels such as LinkedIn and build up your personal brand online to reflect who you are and what you stand for as a working adult – you never know where it could take you. With so many people applying for the same position, think about what could set you apart and make you stand out from the competition.

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