COVID-19 and young people’s education and employment aspirations: A 3 year study in Geelong

The challenge

The world is currently in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic that is yet to run its epidemiological course. Many parts of the global economy are in crisis, and the variety of government, business and community responses to the crises hint at their scale and possible duration.

Historically, we know that young people carry a particularly heavy burden in the downstream of crises: in terms of their health and well-being, their engagement in education and training, and their transitions into work. We also know that certain places will be more heavily impacted by these crises, certain labour market sectors will be more heavily hit, and certain populations of young people are more at risk in relation to these challenges.


Project overview

The COVID-19 research project aims to examine the key challenges – in the short, medium and longer term – facing particular populations of young people in particular places. The project will deliver evidence informed solutions to these challenges.

The project participants are young people aged 16-24 years who live in the City of Greater Geelong and have contact with one of the key stakeholders in the Geelong Region Local Learning and Employment Network (GRLLEN) and/or Skilling the Bay.

We are using innovative, platform based, video capture technologies to conduct a series of video interviews with young people as we track their education, training and employment pathways in COVID ‘normal’ socio-ecologies that are profoundly shaped by historical and contemporary processes of disadvantage and marginalisation.

We are working with academic, community, business, the not-for-profit sector, and government stakeholders to develop scenarios in relation to identified situations, challenges, and possible futures.



The project aims to provide Geelong region stakeholders with a strong evidence base to co-design innovative interventions that foster the education and employment aspirations of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in Geelong in the wake of a COVID-19 youth labour market crisis. The project will also contribute to regional, state, national and international debates about the challenges and opportunities that emerge for young people’s education, training and employment pathways at the convergence ‘between an advanced knowledge economy, which perpetuates patterns of discrimination and exclusion, and the threat of climate change devastation.

Project team

Professor Peter Kelly (Chief investigator), Deakin University

Mr James Goring (Research Fellow), Deakin University

Dr Seth Brown (Chief investigator), RMIT University


The Anthony Costa Foundation



Project website


21st Century skills, education and training, COVID, young people