COVID-19 impact on the youth sector
The purpose of this HUB is to bring together the findings, analyses and impacts that Covid-19 has had on young people. This platform is a changing and evolving tool, in which you can also participate by sending your inputs or contacting us.
Social inclusion is a long-lasting process, which enables a young person to build up self-esteem, self-realisation and resilience and become an autonomous and productive member of society. However, in this process, some groups of young people might encounter barriers and limited access to opportunities and services. The outbreak of COVID-19 has particularly impacted already marginalised young people, whose access to education, social services, digital tools or decision-making has become even more limited.
Youth participation is about having the opportunity to express views, which ae taken seriously and influence decision-making. It is the informed and willing involvement of young people in any matter concerning them directly or indirectly. The outbreak of COVID-19 has created new barriers (limited access to electronic resources), but also new opportunities (new virtual advocacy environments) for youth participation.
Youth work comprises services and activities with and for young people of a social, cultural, educational, political, voluntary and/or sporty nature. The outbreak of COVID-19 has particularly impacted the non-formal and informal learnings promoted by youth work, due to physical distancing and the lack of face-to-face events and activities.
COVID-19 poses a threat to education worldwide, as the closure of schools exacerbates inequalities and produces serious educational setbacks for young people. The imposed lockdowns have also widened the digital divide, since the most vulnerable people do not have technological resources or the skills to use educational platforms. Furthermore, closure of borders, mandatory confinements and health controls have greatly reduced one of the central component of the European cooperation on education and training to improve formal, informal or non-formal learning: learning mobilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on young people's mental health and well-being. Mandatory confinement, job loss, death of family members and being connected to virtual environments all the time, are just some of the situations they have had to suffer during the pandemic and that have caused an increase in the appearance of anxiety and depression symptoms among youth. Due to the above, youth information and counselling has been key during the pandemic to inform about all the imposed sanitary measures and physical restrictions, as well as offering psychological and mental support to face all the direct and indirect consequences caused by COVID-19.
Youth employment refers to people over the age of 15 who have a job (either paid employment or self-employment). Having a job is essential for young people to develop on a personal and professional level, as well as a key factor for socio-economic integration in society. The pandemic has caused a loss of millions of jobs worldwide and the group that has been most affected, due to precarious working conditions, is the young people (a situation that increases exponentially their risk of social exclusion and poverty).
Digitalisation is a transformative process accelerated by new technologies, with a high social and economic impact. It refers to how young people use technology to change traditional social and economic models and is linked to issues of digital participation, literacy and the digital divide. As one of the consequences of the COVID-19 confinement measures, many of the ordinary activities have migrated to remote environments, such as online learning, educational and recreational activities, making the topic of digitalisation even more significant. The debate also includes a discussion of the impact that increased digitalisation is having on privacy and safety issues for young people in the online environment.
Youth organisations make significant contributions to young people's quality of life, to their knowledge and competence acquisition and (through their participation and engagement) to the community in general. The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected youth organisations, which have had to temporarily close their physical spaces, postpone their projects and face economic and financial difficulties.
While a global phenomenon, the outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted young people in national contexts to different extents and in different forms, resulting in different responses from state and non-state actors. This secion gives and overview of the impact and responses in diverse national realities.