A record number of young workers lost their jobs this summer, as the pandemic hit youth employment harder than other age groups.
59,000 16-to-24 year-olds were made redundant between July and September, according to analysis from the Trades Union Congress.
That’s higher than the figure for the whole of last year, the TUC said.
It warned that a generation of young people could be “scarred by mass unemployment”.
Young people are more likely to work in sectors badly hit by lockdown, such as shops, hotels and restaurants, and are therefore at higher risk of redundancy.
The TUC’s analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics showed that the number of 16-to-24 year-olds in employment had fallen by 8% to 3.5 million, lower than any point on record.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We are on the edge of a national unemployment crisis. This generation of young workers must not be abandoned to mass unemployment.”
The TUC is calling for more investment in green transport and infrastructure to be announced in the government’s Spending Review next week, and extra help for retail and hospitality.
A UK government spokesperson said: “We know that young people have been particularly affected by the pandemic and our Plan for Jobs is creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for 16-to-24 year-olds.”
This included the Kickstart Scheme, increasing the number of apprenticeships and traineeships available, boosting funding for the National Careers Service and recruiting thousands of work coaches to support people into work.
The Kickstart scheme has created 19,000 jobs for 16-to-24 year-olds, according to government figures.
Under the scheme government pays for 25 hours a week on the minimum wage for young people claiming universal credit, for six months.
The TUC report also says that young people are more likely to be furloughed than older workers. Those previously on the minimum wage would find themselves trying to subsist on less than the minimum wage.
423,000 16-to-24 year-olds were on less than the minimum wage in April 2020, for furlough or other reasons, the TUC report said.
The TUC is calling for an increase in universal credit for young people who lose their jobs.