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The impact of the Covid-19 restrictions and socio-economic effects of the pandemic on the careers of the Futuretrack cohort

The Futuretrack Stage 5 research was conducted in summer and autumn 2019, but as the research team analysed the data collected and began to write the Stage 5 report, employment and social life more broadly were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. This presented unprecedented challenges to employers and employees as the cohort of graduates who had entered the labour market in the wake of the 2008-9 financial crisis, around ten years after graduation, mainly moved beyond early careers to settled professional employment or self-employment and reached the family-building stage of their lives - over a quarter having already become parents. As we analysed the responses and particularly, the interview accounts given by those we had spoken to, we were aware that respondents ranged from those likely to be at the front line of essential services in healthcare and other areas, to those who had recently become self-employed or who were in precarious employment, or working in sectors where the restrictions were already leading employers to make staff redundant and rationalise their activities in a way likely to increase the vulnerability of employees. it seemed essential to go back to respondents to investigate the impact of these restrictions and economic trends, and allow them to update their accounts of their career development and perceptions of the options available to them.