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Cabinet Speech -Addressing the Long-Term Impact of COVID-19 on Young People

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Last month myself and 6 other MSYPs along with Members of the Children’s parliament met with the Scottish Cabinet for the annual cabinet meeting. At this meeting I gave a speech on the long term impact that COVID-19 will have on young people in Scotland and what the Scottish Government can do to combat these concerns, this was and still is important to me because I believe a lot more can be done for us young people to ensure the effects the pandemic has on a bigger level can be prevented.

Meeting with the Scottish cabinet was an amazing opportunity and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even being online I fully felt as though our voices were listened to and appreciated.

Here’s the speech:

Selfie of Brooke Barr in front of a laptop showing the Cabinet meeting

Looking into the future is something myself and other young people do often, thinking about further education, apprenticeships, careers and what life will be like looking forward. This would usually be more positive thoughts but given the last year that positive mind set turned negative very quickly. I am in my last year of school, applied for college and university courses. Now all I think about is how it might not work out for me. I won’t get in, I won’t do well, I won’t make a career out of it are thoughts that cross my mind all too often, and it isn’t just me that feels like this.

In our Spring 2020 Lockdown Lowdown survey, two thirds of respondents had concerns about the impact of coronavirus on their future. Young people also told us they worry about the knock-on effect of the impact on education may have on future employment prospects, as well as job availability and competition with experienced adults.

In the words of one young person “I am constantly worried about my future should I lose my job. I don’t feel the Government fully appreciate the impact the pandemic is having on the economy and people’s future. My mental health has never been so poor.” The extent of this worry and the impact on mental health makes me worried for those young people around me. What can we do to help?

Well we’d like the Scottish Government to ensure young people’s grades or lack of experience doesn’t hold them back, making sure the attainment gap doesn’t widen is vital. Employers and educational institutions need to be advised to take into account the impact the pandemic will have on grades, work experience and other employment opportunities.

We welcome the Youth Guarantee as an important step to ensuring young people can go on to meaningful employment. However, we think more could be done to ensure disadvantaged groups, such as disabled young people and young people of colour, aren’t left behind. We’d like to see the Scottish Government commit to providing additional support for these individuals.

Image of a Microsoft Teams calls featuring the Scottish Cabinet, MSYPs, and MCPs.

Finally, I’d also like to stress the important role of youth work in ensuring young people have a positive outlook on their future The non-formal education opportunities young people gain through youth work, sport, and outdoor education, provide essential skills and experiences young people are unable to gain through formal education. Although youth workers have done an amazing job at providing online opportunities this year, the limitations have had a huge impact on young people’s confidence and ability to gain those skills and experiences which will help them in the future. We welcome the Scottish Government’s recent commitment to provide additional funding to youth work, but we believe this would be strengthened with legal protections against future budget cuts.We believe it is essential for young people’s rights to be at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery. Through the UNCRC Bill and opportunities such as this meeting, it is clear the Scottish Government respect our rights and opinions, which we are very grateful for. We hope this approach continues as we make our way out of this crisis and beyond.”

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