Much like the Depression overshadowed the upbringing of many baby boomers, the ongoing effects of the coronavirus will inevitably scar the lives of today's parents and their children. In this two-part series, Jane Phare looks at the generations that will be affected by Covid-19, what they face and what parents can do to help future-proof them.
At Kaipara College north of Auckland, principal Steve McCracken is already starting to see a direct impact of Covid-19. Students who should be staying on to complete their NCEA qualifications are quitting school early to get a job or work as a tradie. Mum, Dad - sometimes both - have lost their incomes and needs must.
The co-ed college is Decile 7 but among the 860 students McCracken sees it all: "from the ones with the million-dollar horse floats to the ones who live in poverty". If he's seeing that trend at Kaipara College, he predicts it will be worse in lower decile schools.
And he sees the effects of Covid even on those with choices. The college's head girl was intent on joining the RNZAF School to Skies programme. "She had her heart and soul set on becoming a pilot". Since Covid, that's changed. Although she still hopes to be a pilot one day, for now she has opted to go to university.
The story is the same elsewhere, part of the coronavirus reality in which Gen-19 will grow up after a simple virus spread chaos, fear and uncertainty across the globe.
Experts predict the effects of the global pandemic will be far reaching and long lasting, dumped on a generation already anxious about climate change and now this. Many of Gen-Z will have their education and tertiary training interrupted, including some who will suffer long-term from the digital divide.
They will see career options narrow in areas like hospitality, tourism, media, aviation and retail. Online shopping and communication will become turbo-charged while businesses and branches will close; jobs in some sectors will disappear, others will open up in unexpected areas.
They will hear startling stories of former Air New Zealand pilots now driving portable loo trucks and working as train drivers. Nothing is as it once was. Resilience and adaptability will be the new buzzwords.
A generation now wonders what their future will look like, what career options will be "safe", whether there'll be a job after training and uni. School career advisers have been inundated with Year 12 and 13 students wanting advice on options post Covid.
Added to that stress is what's happening at home: poorer families becoming poorer, the working parents of middle-class families suddenly finding themselves unemployed, whole industries collapsed.
So what can parents do to help cushion the effects? Those spoken to for this story had a consistent theme – reassurance.
"I think parents having an optimistic view, even if they don't really believe it, is encouraging," McCracken says. He's seen a sharp uptake in students accessing school counselling services as a result of pressures at home.
"Unless you are dealing with young people every day, I don't think people realise the impact that things that happen at home have on our young people. They watch, they listen, they hear everything, they take it all in."
Tell them it will be OK, he says. And don't try to mastermind their subject options and career options based on the fear of the unknown.
Experts warn that rather than trying to influence children's choices, parents should support them to pursue what they're good at and what interests them. In short, they will thrive if they follow their interests; they will fail if they follow yours.
Taking a very conservative approach to education and career options for children is not necessarily a good thing, says Retirement Commissioner Jane Wrightson.
"Traditional education options aren't generally innovative, creative or bring the kind of entrepreneurial headspace that I think a young person is going to need.
"We need to encourage the biggest, bluest sky thinking we can from this generation."
Encourage your kids to do the subjects they love, she advises, and if necessary, get them to add on a practical subject as well.
"If they want to do art then get them to do a business management course as well. It's the old story - core skills, core competencies, core talent will out."
Knowing how to be adaptable and when to veer off a chosen path will be a key for young people in a post-Covid future, she says.
Auckland foodie Celia Hay's son Oliver is an example of a Kiwi who trained for one specific career but now works in another.
He did an engineering degree at the University of Auckland, specialising in computer systems, and later took a break from his career last year to do a six-month spell working on superyachts in Europe.
When he returned to New Zealand in January this year he decided not to go back to engineering. Hay now works with his mother helping to run the New Zealand School of Food & Wine and has been invaluable in upgrading the school's computer systems and teaching students online learning skills.
Like others running a hospitality-based business, Celia Hay wondered what effect Covid-19 would have on the school she's run for 25 years, surviving the Christchurch earthquakes and relocating to Auckland in 2012.
Encouragingly, the school has seen an increase in inquiries about food and wine courses, and no current students have pulled out. She puts that down to a new level of interest in food and cooking after the last lockdown, and young Kiwis looking for self-employment options.
Hay is not worried about her students getting jobs in the future. There will always be a need for chefs in niche markets, she says, and local cafes and restaurants will be well supported once lockdown is lifted.
"That is where we're going to see the growth in the next three years."
The Up Education group of private training colleges has also seen an increase in enrolments.
Tim McFarlane, chief sales and marketing officer for Up Education, says enrolments are particularly strong in nursing, early childhood and the trades, including construction, electrical engineering, Māori and Pasifika trades training, painting and plastering, plumbing and gas fitting.
"People are looking for guaranteed outcomes."
As for jobs, McFarlane refers to the shovel-ready projects. Where, he asks, will all those shovel-ready workers come from?
"People need to have at least a base level of skills before they can jump on a massive construction project."
Up Education trains 11,000 Kiwi students a year on 30 campuses in seven locations across the country, including the New Zealand School of Tourism. While tourism has taken a hit, the school hasn't.
McFarlane says that's because most of the students won't leave until 2022, by which time they believe tourism will have a future. The emphasis on promoting domestic tourism has also helped fuel interest in the sector.
"It's up compared with last year if anything."
He predicts the demand for Kiwis trained in hospitality and tourism will hold up in the future. It's a sector that, pre-Covid, relied on thousands of migrant and temporary work-visa holders.
"Most of those people have left the country so that's creating demand as domestic tourism is starting to pick up."
Auckland economist Shamubeel Eaqub is encouraged by the effort that's gone into micro credentialling and apprenticeships, hoping it will open up more career pathways for children who are not necessarily academic.
The generation he's worried about are those who are just finishing their education and are looking for work. They're in for a tough time, he says.
He recalls that "horrible time" of very high unemployment in the early 90s, when many of his friends were starting out. It took them longer to find jobs, and to reach the same level of income and career progression than other generations either side of them.
"While we haven't seen a big surge of unemployment yet, it is coming," says Eaqub. "We still have longer to go in this recession so there is still a lot of that labour market pain that is to come."
The delay caused by a Covid-fuelled recession will have ongoing effects, he says.
"You delay partnering up, having babies, getting into your own home, everything gets pushed out as a result."
Eaqub thinks the psychological effects will be a bigger issue than the financial fallout, that the longer people live in a climate of fear, the more likely it is to change the way they think and behave.
That will affect decisions on risk taking – whether to start a business or just get a job. During recessions, very few people start new businesses.
Keryn O'Neill, knowledge manager for the Brainwave Trust Aotearoa, says the way adults respond and provide emotional support can have a big impact.
Young people are faced with interrupted schooling and events like sporting fixtures, cultural performances, school balls and camps being cancelled, rescheduled and cancelled again.
"We need to recognise how important those things are to our young people. It might not seem as big as Mum or Dad losing their job but for that young person it can be pretty important to them."
And helping young people learn ways to cope with life's setbacks and challenges will also be important.
Young people have always faced the prospect of not getting into the course or the apprenticeship or the job they wanted, but the ability to cope with setbacks will be even more important in the coming years.
Wrightson says it is incumbent on the older generation to assure younger people that things will come right.
"If we can't give them that, I think we will have a cohort who are going to be so troubled that we should be ashamed of ourselves."
She takes aim at the "unending stream of doom and gloom" from economists.
"Obviously things are a bit grim. But being glass-half-empty doesn't help the country and it doesn't help people cope with problems," Wrightson says.
"Yes we know the country is in trouble but the fact is, it will pass. We don't quite know when but it will pass."
737 pilot's Covid story
What happened to Matt Iremonger was a wakeup call for his 18-year-old son Jack. He'd grown up seeing his dad earn a regular salary as a 737 pilot flying the transtasman route, affording the family a good lifestyle.
Then Covid hit. Iremonger was grounded, on leave without pay until further notice and no prospect of work in the near future.
With a family to feed and a mortgage to pay, he was forced to take on any work he could get. During level 4, Iremonger worked for Prolife Foods, stacking Mother Earth muesli bars in the factory and later as the part-time caretaker at his youngest son's school.
If nothing else, Covid has shown the younger generation that nothing is for sure and nothing is forever. It's Iremonger's attitude that has carried the Hamilton family through. He wants to lead by example, showing his kids that when things get rough, roll up your sleeves and get on with it, he says.
Iremonger, 45, says the loss of his income has been a steep learning curve for Jack.
"All of a sudden it was all gone. I was earning less than him per hour for a while. I think it's been a big wakeup call for him."
With his airline uniform still hanging in the wardrobe, Iremonger now works for Halo Technologies installing milk vat monitors on farms. In between jobs he has claimed the wage subsidy to help the family survive.
Wife Maree is a kindy relief teacher and although Hamilton is in level 2, work has dropped off because parents are keeping their children at home.
Iremonger is happily doing 50 hours a week, saying there's a lot of work out there if people are prepared to do anything.
"You just can't be picky to start off with if you haven't got any qualifications."
His advice is to turn up on time, work hard and be reliable. "Things change and you don't want to be the one they pick to go because you're unreliable."
Iremonger had hoped to be back in the air by the end of this year but that's now looking less likely.
He's from a flying family. His dad was a top-dressing pilot in Te Kuiti and two of Iremonger's brothers are pilots.
He knows he may have to retrain in the future if things don't improve. In the meantime, he values the regular hours and being home every weekend to spend time with his sons Charlie, 14, and Harry, 11.
"I've seen that as a big benefit for our family."
Part of that family time has been sharing what Covid has caused them to go through. He wants his sons to understand the importance of being adaptable and resilient.
"We talk openly about what's going on and how we're budgeting so they can learn about it from an early age. They're part of the conversation."