Over one in six young people have stopped working since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said as part of its latest analysis of the labour market impact of COVID-19.
According to the fourth edition of the ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work, COVID has had a devastating and disproportionate effect on young workers and the substantial and rapid increase in youth unemployment seen since February is affecting young women more than young men.
ILO says that while one in six have stopped working, those who remain employed have seen their working hours cut by 23%.
Young people constitute major victims of social and economic consequences of the pandemic, and there is a risk that they will be scarred throughout their working lives â€“ leading to the emergence of a â€ślockdown generationâ€ť, the ILO said in its report.
According to the organisation, the pandemic is inflicting a triple shock on young people. â€śNot only is it destroying their employment, but it is also disrupting education and training, and placing major obstacles in the way of those seeking to enter the labour market or to move between jobs,â€ť ILO said.
The ILO monitor has seen that a total of 178 million young workers around the world, more than four in ten young people employed globally, were working in hard-hit sectors when the crisis began. Almost 77% (or 328 million) of the worldâ€™s young workers were in informal jobs, compared with around 60% of adult workers (aged 25 and above). The youth informality rate ranges from 32.9 per cent in Europe and Central Asia to 93.4 per cent in Africa. Even before the crisis, more than 267 million young people were not in employment, education or training (NEET), including almost 68 million unemployed young people.
Those 15-24-year olds who were employed were also more likely to be in forms of work that leave them vulnerable, such as low paid occupations, informal sector work, or as migrant workers.
Among the young workers who are not in employment, education or training, over 31% of them are young women, while 13.9% are young men.
â€śThe COVID-19 economic crisis is hitting young people â€“ especially women â€“ harder and faster than any other group. If we do not take significant and immediate action to improve their situation, the legacy of the virus could be with us for decades. If their talent and energy is side-lined by a lack of opportunity or skills it will damage all our futures and make it much more difficult to re-build a better, post-COVID economy,â€ť said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.
The ILO Monitor has called for urgent, large-scale and targeted policy responses to support youth, including broad-based employment/training guarantee programmes in developed countries, and employment-intensive programmes and guarantees in low- and middle-income economies.
The Monitor, which also looked at how a safe environment could be created to return to work, says that rigorous testing and tracing (TT) of COVID-19 infections, â€śis strongly related to lower labour market disruptionâ€¦ [and] substantially smaller social disruptions than confinement and lockdown measures.â€ť
It also says that policy interventions targeting young people should be introduced along with an effective implementation of employment/skills guarantees, linked to broader stimulus and recovery packages.