As the nation prepares for another lockdown, Emma Egging, CEO of the Jon Egging Trust, is calling for more to be done to help young people as they navigate the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As discussions continue around rota systems for secondary schools and whether formal learning institutions should be shut, JET are working hard to provide vital toolkits to help young people to adapt and thrive in the face of an everchanging normal.
Amidst alarming figures on youth unemployment and with a new lockdown imminent, JET is calling for more action to support young people as they look to the future in uncertain times.
A report by the Youth Employment Group highlighted that 760,000 young people were not in education or employment before the pandemic and there are fears that there will be an additional 640,000 unemployed 18-24 year olds by the end of the year.
With fundraising support, the next five years will see JET extending its support for young people from 7-16 up to age 24 through the provision of JET Future advisors in all of the areas where the charity operates.
Whilst the government have plans to support career advisors to return to schools, JET supports the students who are at serious risk of disengaging with the system, placing much needed focus on providing tools for employability and support for making decisions on their futures.
Despite there being a blueprint on how educational facilities need to be COVID-secure, CEO Emma Egging recognises that no child’s experience of the pandemic has been the same.
“The impact on young people’s lives and routine has been as individual as the effects of the virus itself. Every student returning to school is facing a period of transition which is unique to them and for many teachers the challenge is trying to support every student under their care to get back on track whilst also managing their own fears about the situation,” she said.
“According to the Office for National Statistics, 42% of young people aged 16-29 years said that lockdown had made their mental health worse and a third reported that home education was putting a strain on their relationships. A fifth of young people said they did not have access to the resources they needed to continue their studies from home.”
The nation’s attention has been drawn to the plight of the most vulnerable in society and now the race is on to help the most disadvantaged young people following such an extended period of disrupted education.
“The Education Policy Institute’s Annual Report on the state of education in England finds that the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has ‘stopped closing for the first time in a decade’. Disadvantaged pupils in England are 18.1 months of learning behind their peers by the time they finish their GCSEs,” said Emma.
JET recognises that the plight of young people has never been so apparent and urgent action is needed. JET wants to reach more young people than ever before and that is why the trust has focused its attention on innovating its programmes, concentrating on two key areas – firstly, creating resources as part of the new JET Inspired programme and secondly to help young people identify their strengths and set them on the best career path for them. J
ET Inspired is a series of films and accompanying lesson plans and activities which will be launched by JET from January 2021 and champions the trust’s key values of inspiration, teamwork and leadership.
Through the production of resources that link with the school PSHE (personal, social and health education) curriculum JET will bring the life and work skills demonstrated by some of the trust’s key programme partners such as the RAF Red Arrows, into the classroom to support young people to navigate their way through these unprecedented times and to help them think about their futures.
As cases continue to rise across the UK, JET is calling for more support for young people as they attempt to forge paths in an uncertain future.
“In the same way that the nation’s approach to home working has been forced to change, so too the pandemic has reshaped the way young people see education,” said Emma.
“We need to take a look at our education system and how it can be refined to support young people and their learning needs, to not only ensure that we can support young people through another potential lockdown but because a blended and more flexible approach to education will help make our schooling more efficient and effective both now and in the future.”