Most young furloughed workers fear impact on career and worry about redundancy

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
April 14, 2021, 9:05 AM UTC

Younger furloughed workers are the most willing to retrain in another sector

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced when delivering the 2021 Budget that the furlough scheme will end on 30 September – a year and a half after it started.

New YouGov data shows that most furloughed workers (57%) worry about the prospect of redundancy. Those aged 25 to 44 are most prone to fretting about losing their job, at 63%, while furloughed workers aged 55 and over are the least nervous at 50%.

Furloughed employees aged 18 to 24 are the most likely age group to feel anxious about how the pandemic will impact their career progression (60%) and professional development (55%).

The older workers get, the less worried they are about the impact of the pandemic on these aspects of their working life, with only a quarter of the oldest workers (those aged 55+) concerned about their career progression, and just one in five worried about their professional development.  

While most furloughed workers have contemplated the prospect of getting laid off, only 11% actually believe they’re unlikely to get their job back. This includes one in twenty (5%) who say it’s “very” unlikely.

If these instincts are right, it could amount to around 517,000 redundancies in the coming months, as 4.7 million workers were furloughed as of January. This is in line with predictions from the ONS and the Office for Budget Responsibility. 

Most furloughed workers feel confident that they’ll get to stay in their job, with just over a third (36%) saying it’s very likely, while another 42% feel fairly certain.

The research also shows that around one in ten furloughed workers (10%) have not had any communication from their employer since being sent home, while 37% say it has been scarce.

Around half have either had a fair amount of communication (34%) or a lot (18%).

Some furloughed workers have started job hunting, others want to retrain

Rishi Sunak has previously suggested that people ‘in all walks of life’ should look to find new opportunities. Three in ten furloughed workers (30%) have already started looking for other work, rising to almost half (47%) of those aged 18 to 24.

A fifth (19%) say they would like to apply for new jobs but there are none in their sector. Around two fifths (44%) are not looking for other work – rising to two thirds (64%) of those aged 55 and older.

The Chancellor has similarly encouraged workers to retrain, saying they should ‘find ways to adapt and adjust to the new reality'. Around three in ten furloughed workers (28%) say they’re likely to retrain in another sector. This prospect is most popular among younger workers aged 18 to 24 (47%). It drops significantly among those aged 45 to 54 (14%) and 55+ (15%). 

See the full results here