Covid-19 and the ‘sacrificed generation’

Why the EU and governments must act today

The article from The Guardian titled “‘A sacrificed generation’: psychological scars of Covid on young may have lasting impact” on 2nd June 2021, brings up the point of how governments, including the UK, have done a poor job of handling the fallout of people’s mental well-being, education, and future job prospects.

victoria-riess-leader-covid-19-and-the-sacrificed -generation
Impact of Covid-19 pandemic on younger generation

As a reader, I am inclined to agree. The 2008 Financial Crisis had long-term impacts on economic and social facets of our lives. However, the EU missed the opportunity to help the youth recover quickly from unemployment. Instead, it tightened the fiscal and monetary policy, and therefore, slowed the recovery and caused a second recession. As per a study by The Economist, starting work in a recession affects people for their entire lives, leading to lower wealth, higher rates of divorce and higher mortality long after the recessions are over; and it is imperative to understand that we are in a situation where we can either let this period affect future generations or take corrective measures now so generations after us lead healthier, happier lives.

The article spoke about how the government is prioritizing older people in terms of access — to vaccinations, mental health care, and financial support. There was a line in the article that really stood out, which succinctly summed up the attitude towards younger generations — “You are not a priority, first we have to take care of older people”. Forgetting about younger generations can create a generational divide which can cause resentment and ill will in countries.

Younger people during the pandemic

By putting younger people out, we risk destabilising their future, leading to lower growth rates in the future, employment, productivity, and inter-generational conflict. The EU currently spends €22 billion on youth employment support; national governments like the UK and Germany plan to extend the school day by half an hour and use €1 billion for tutoring and support learning programs for students to catch up after Covid-19. But this is not enough. The EU and governments must step in and amend this before it is too late. This can be done by providing additional education support programs, closer mental health support, end-to-end digital learning environments, digital skills training for the labour market, and even gamified learning programs with a focus on socialising.

The EU and governments must act today, otherwise we will lose out on a whole younger generation in the future.

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