LONDON, Feb 1 — Britain’s young people were disproportionately hit by unemployment during the Covid-19 pandemic and many have since returned to work in more insecure jobs, a think-tank said yesterday.

Three-quarters of Britons aged 18-24 who lost their jobs during the early stages of the pandemic returned to work by October 2021, the Resolution Foundation said in a statement citing a survey from online pollsters YouGov.

The labour market was especially boosted by the government’s Covid furlough scheme, which subsidised private-sector wages but ended late last year.

But the Resolution Foundation added that one-third of those returning young workers had found insecure contracts comprising flexible or temporary work with no guaranteed hours, particularly in the so-called gig economy.

That contrasted with 12 per cent of young people who remained in work throughout the pandemic and were on insecure contracts.

“Young people were hit hardest by the economic impact of the pandemic, but have bounced back with a swift return to work, thanks in large part to the success of the furlough scheme,” said Resolution Foundation economist Louise Murphy.

“But policymakers and employers must not become complacent — problems persist for young people who are at risk of insecure work and economic inactivity.”

YouGov quizzed 6,100 young adults about their recent employment and outlook regarding the post-pandemic labour market.

Recent official data showed that Britain’s youth unemployment rate fell below its pre-pandemic level by the end of 2021.

“A return to the workplace, on its own, is not enough,” cautioned Murphy.

“Ensuring that young people have the confidence and knowledge to find and apply for work, and access to good quality jobs and sufficient hours, must be a priority for employers and policymakers in the months and years to come.” — AFP