More than half of young people in Cyprus are pessimistic about the future while the country failed to introduce new policies targeting youth during the pandemic, a Eurofound survey showed on Tuesday.
Young people are now more likely to find themselves unemployed and to report poor mental health than the rest of population during the Covid-19 pandemic, which put an end to a six-year decline in youth unemployment, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions said.
According to the agency’s latest report looking on the impact of Covid-19 on young people in the EU, young people were overrepresented in the sectors most impacted by pandemic restrictions and are more likely to work on temporary contracts or part time.
Over half of people aged 18 to 29 reported living with their parents, while 17 per cent reported experiencing housing insecurity in spring 2021.
Although indicators in these areas improved between spring and summer 2020, when lockdowns eased, they then dropped to the lowest point in spring 2021 when restrictions and school closures returned. At that time, nearly two-thirds of young people were at risk of depression, the report said.
“Youth mental health in Europe can now be categorised as a crisis in its own regard,” it added.
At the same time, optimism about the future remained higher among young people than among those aged 30 or over throughout the pandemic.
However, optimism dropped to the lowest level across the three survey rounds in spring 2021, when less than half (49 per cent) of young people were optimistic about their own future, down from 54 per cent in spring 2020 and 57 per cent in summer 2020.
“This was probably related to the strict lockdowns introduced in many countries as the new wave of the pandemic hit,” the survey suggested.
Cyprus was among the countries with the lowest percentage of young people agreeing they are positive about the future.
In the third round carried out in spring this year, the lowest levels of optimism among young people were measured in Spain (35 per cent), Poland (37 per cent) and Cyprus (40 per cent). On the other end of the scale, the highest were found in Malta, Latvia and Slovenia, countries where more than two-thirds of young people agreed that they were optimistic about their future.
Despite data showing the Cypriot unemployment rate, at 3.6 per cent in September, being significantly lower than the EU average of 7.4 per cent, the survey did not include detailed information on the percentage of unemployed young people.
The survey also found that there is limited discussion of impact on young people and the state mainly uses existing policies, without introducing new measures targeting youth.
As part of the measures to support the recruitment of young people during the crisis, the country relaunched a scheme providing incentives for the employment of people aged 15–29 who are NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) with an increased budget in October 2020. The target was to bring 1,150 NEETs into the labour market.
The scheme was expected to benefit more young graduates during the Covid-19 crisis than in previous implementation periods. An important condition of the scheme is that the recruitment of a young NEET should represent a net increase in the number of employees in the business.