Young people are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic

Anna Triponel

May 25, 2020

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) released its latest ILO Monitor on COVID-19 and the world of work. The ILO identifies three ways in which young people are being affected by the COVID-19 crisis:

  1. Disruption to education and training, which could reduce potential employment opportunities and earnings in the future
  2. The current wave of job losses and the collapse of businesses and start-ups are reducing earnings and employment (and threatening rights at work) and
  3. The emergence of greater obstacles to finding work, (re-)entering the labour market and trying to transition to better jobs

The ILO finds that:

  • There is a risk that young people will be scarred throughout their working lives – leading to the emergence of a “lockdown generation”
  • 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
  • According to a global study (conducted by the ILO and the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth), more than one in six young people have stopped working since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who remain employed have seen their working hours cut by 23 per cent, and over half of young people have become vulnerable to anxiety or depression since the start of the pandemic
  • 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 per cent (or 328 million) of the world’s young workers were in informal jobs, compared with around 60 per cent of adult workers (aged 25 and above)
  • Young people under the age of 30 account for around 70 per cent of international migrant flows. Many young migrants have suffered the impact of workplace and border closures, and have not been able to return either to their jobs or to their country of origin

The ILO calls for urgent, large-scale and targeted policy responses to support youth, such as broad-based employment/training guarantee programmes in developed countries, and employment-intensive programmes and guarantees in low- and middle-income economies.

Source: International Labour Organisation, ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work. Fourth edition. Updated estimates and analysis (27 May 2020)

“The COVID-19 economic crisis is hitting young people – especially women – 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.”                      

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, ILO: More than one in six young people out of work due to COVID-19 (27 May 2020)

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