The Government’s furlough scheme that it introduced in response to COVID-19 is unprecedented and has kept many families from severe hardship. However, with the furlough scheme changing, it’s worth considering the potential impact of COVID-19 on employment, both for those of us who will feel the ramifications of the changes and those, like our guest blogger Grace below, who never qualified for furlough from the outset.
In March I started a new apprenticeship in a digital marketing role. I was extremely excited at finally landing such a great opportunity as I’d spent a lot of time searching, and in interviews. When COVID-19 arrived and isolation was announced I initially had no idea my job would be at risk as I can work from home and I’m well equipped with the tools needed to work remotely.
So, after just a short few weeks in the job I received an unfortunate call from my boss. He informed me that to qualify for furlough I needed to have been on the payroll by the end of February. They could not furlough me… nor could they afford to pay me. This meant their only option was to lay me off.
It came as a complete surprise as I thought that, due to the nature of my job, I would remain safely employed – either working from home or receiving furlough at the least. I absolutely loved my job in the short month I had it. After so many interviews, finally finding a role that was going to be a great step in the right direction for my career was so exciting and it’s very upsetting that I’ve temporarily lost this due to COVID-19.
Since leaving college with A-Levels in Art and Photography I have been trying to find my way into the creative industry. I am a highly creative person and love working with computers and social media, so digital marketing was a great fit for me. I enjoyed the creative side of designing advertisements and making changes to the website and also enjoyed learning about the technical and analytical side of digital marketing, which was a new skill that I was eager to learn. I miss the purpose that my job gave me; not only in the role that I really enjoyed every day but also through the daily routine that it provided.
“I also worry about how the future ‘norm’ will look and how long it will take to go back to normal, if at all.”
When COVID-19 began escalating and the necessity of staying home first became clear, I initially thought that everything would get back to normal very quickly, but as the virus progressed and I realised this was a long term situation I felt mostly worried about the future – not only for myself but for everyone close to me who faced uncertainty when it came to their jobs and livelihood.
I also worry about how the future ‘norm’ will look and how long it will take to go back to normal, if at all. Thankfully I am in a lucky position where I have many people who I can rely on if I were to be in a position where I could not make ends meet but, in some ways, I do feel that COVID-19 has been a setback in my career. All this time spend doing nothing at home could have been spent working on improving my skills and studying for my apprenticeship. However, as soon as it is possible I will be getting back into my old job, or, searching for a new one in a similar role and working hard to make up for lost time.
The biggest worry I currently have is what will happen if I don’t get back into the job I lost. If that is the case then I don’t know how long it will take me to find a new job, any job, just to stay financially secure. That said, there are positives that I feel I can take away from my time spend in lockdown. I learned how much I take a lot of things for granted – such as the freedom to visit family and friends and even the simple stuff like going out to a restaurant or shopping centre. It has made me realise how much these things are important to our mental health and now I will never take them for granted again!
I personally feel that the impact of COVID-19 is going to be felt for a very long time and unless a vaccine is developed we will need to find a way to live alongside it. We can’t stay in lockdown forever and need to start thinking of ways to continue our lives in coexistence with this horrid disease as best as we can.
Our HeadStart programme supports young people to engage in a positive and meaningful way with people from different backgrounds through volunteering. In addition, the programme provides interview experience with leading brands and professional employability workshops to build essential skills. If you’re an employer who thinks they might be able to provide support for young people, or if you’re a young person aged 16-19 who wants to develop confidence and gain experience in the world of work.