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Covid-19 and education: how can we help the young generation missing the ‘best years of their lives’?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital2 October 2020

Emma Watson.

Post-millennials, or GenZ, have been described as the first true digital natives, growing up without memory of a time before smart phones or social media. So when England moved into lockdown in March 2020, and life moved online, you might expect this generation to be the most prepared to handle the change. However, our research suggests that this generation feel they are missing out on the “best years” of their lives, having been told to stay inside, losing access to university campuses, their social lives, and job opportunities.

Between May and July this year, the ASPIRES study recorded 48 interviews with 20- and 21-year-old participants who we’ve been fortunate enough to talk to every few years, since they were ten. ASPIRES is led by Professor Louise Archer, Karl Mannheim Professor of Sociology of Education at UCL Institute of Education. We’re interested in their science and career aspirations, their life experiences and views on a range of issues. The majority of these interviews were with individuals who were graduating from university this summer, others were mid-way through university, and a handful were either already working, about to start new jobs, or looking for work in a post-pandemic economy.

The young people we spoke with shared the financial difficulties they were experiencing. For instance, university students who depended on paid work during holidays or term-time to support their living costs had been particularly hard hit. As Luna* (more…)