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1 in 6 youths lose employment due to Covid-19 pandemic

  • Published at 09:10 pm May 27th, 2020

Young women more affected by the rapid increase in youth unemployment than young men

More than one in six young people have stopped working globally since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, while those who remain employed have seen their work hours cut by 23%, as per International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations agency.

Meanwhile, in the Asia and Pacific region, which includes Bangladesh, people employed in various sectors have experienced a 10% drop in working hours in the second quarter of 2020 owing to the coronavirus crisis, said ILO.

According to a report by ILO titled ‘ILO Monitor: Covid-19 and the world of work. fourth edition’, the lost working hours in the first half of 2020 continue to reflect a severe impact on employment, while the prospects for the second quarter of 2020 remain grim.

Latest estimates revealed a decline in working hours of around 10.7% relative to the last quarter of 2019, which is equivalent to 305 million full-time jobs.

Asia and the Pacific have seen a 10% decline in working hours in the second quarter of 2020, which was 6.5% in the first quarter. In America, it is 13.1% and 12.9% in Europe and Central Asia.

Youths most affected

As per ILO findings, youth are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and the substantial and rapid increase in youth unemployment seen since February is affecting young women more than young men.

The pandemic is inflicting a triple shock on young people.

Not 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, the report added.

ILO called for urgent, large-scale and targeted policy responses to support the youth, including broad-based employment, and training guarantee programs in developed countries, and employment-intensive programs and guarantees in low- and middle-income economies.

“The pandemic is inflicting a real shock on Bangladesh’s vulnerable youth population,” said Tuomo Poutiainen, country director of ILO Bangladesh.

“Job prospects have vastly reduced. For youth to be provided paths for positive future, education and skills training need to be greatly invested in. Sadly, young women workers, who were already struggling in low-paid and informal sector jobs - are being worst hit,” he added.

The ILO is working with the government to design and develop education and skills development schemes, entrepreneurship training, as well as employment and training guarantee schemes that specifically target young people, particularly those who are the most vulnerable” he mentioned.

Testing and tracing pays off

The Monitor looked at measures to create a safe environment for returning to work. 

It said rigorous testing and tracing (TT) of Covid-19 infections is “strongly related to lower labour market disruption and substantially smaller social disruptions than confinement and lockdown measures.”

In countries with strong testing and tracing, the average fall in working hours is reduced by as much as 50%. 

There are three reasons for this. TT reduces reliance on strict confinement measures; promotes public confidence, and thus encourages consumption and supports employment, and it helps minimise operational disruption at the workplace.

In addition, testing and tracing can itself create new jobs, even if temporary.