As many as 41 lakh youths in India lost jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said.
“For India, the report estimates job loss for 4.1 million youths. Construction and agriculture have witnessed the major job losses among seven key sectors,” said the ILO-ADB report titled, ‘Tackling the COVID-19 youth employment crisis in Asia and the Pacific,’ released on Tuesday.
The young people’s employment prospects in Asia and the Pacific are severely challenged due to the pandemic, it added.
Youth between 15-24 years will be hit harder than adults between 25 years and older in the immediate crisis, and risk bearing higher longer-term economic and social costs said the report.
The report is based on a regional assessment of the ‘Global Survey on Youth and COVID-19,‘ and arrived at estimates based on available unemployment data in different countries.
It said that in India, two-thirds of firm-level apprenticeships and three-quarters of internships were completely interrupted during the pandemic.
The report calls on governments in the region to adopt urgent, large-scale, and targeted measures to generate jobs for the youth, keep education and training on track, and to minimise future scarring of over 660 million young people in the region.
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, youth in Asia and the Pacific faced challenges in the labour market, resulting in high unemployment rates and large shares of youth excluded from both school and work.
In 2019, the regional youth unemployment rate was 13.8 percent, compared to three percent for adults; and over 160 million youth (24 percent of the population) were not in employment, education, or training.
Four in five young workers in the region were engaged in informal employment, a higher share than among adults, and one in four young workers was living in conditions of extreme or moderate poverty.
“The pre-crisis challenges for youth are now amplified since COVID-19 hit. Without sufficient attention, our fear is that this risk is creating a ‘lockdown generation,’ that could feel the weight of this crisis for many years to come,” said Sara Elder, lead author of the report and Head of the ILO Regional Economic and Social Analysis unit.
The report cites three ways in which young people are affected in the current crisis. These are job disruptions in the form of reduced working hours and earnings, and job losses for both paid workers and the self-employed; disruptions in their education and training; and difficulties in transitioning from school to work, and moving between jobs in a recession.
Youth unemployment rates in the region increased sharply in the first quarter of 2020 from the last quarter of 2019, it said.
Compared to the first quarter of 2019, the youth unemployment rate increased in six of the nine economies with available data Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam, as well as in Hong Kong, China, which showed the largest increase of three percentage points. In all these economies, youth rates increased more than adult rates, the report showed.
Between one and 1.5 crore youth jobs (full-time equivalent) may be lost across 13 countries in Asia and the Pacific in 2020, the report said.
According to the report, a reason young people in the region face greater labour market disruption and job losses than adults is that nearly half of them (over 10 crores) were employed in the four sectors hardest hit by the crisis. The sectors are wholesale and retail trade and repair, manufacturing, rental and business services, and accommodation and food services.
Young women are over-represented in three of the four most-affected sectors, particularly in accommodation and food services, it said.
Compounded by the forced suspension of education and training, the COVID-19 crisis will affect young people’s transitions to and within labour markets, and could result in scarring effects as seen in previous crises, it said.
It recommends urgent, large-scale, and targeted responses, including youth-targeted wage subsidies and public employment programmes, and measures to mitigate the impact on students of the disruption to their education and training.
Governments should consider balancing the inclusion of the youth in the wider labour market and economic recovery measures, with youth-targeted interventions to maximise the effective allocation of resources.
“Prioritising youth employment in the COVID-19 recovery process will improve Asia and the Pacific’s future prospects for inclusive and sustainable growth, demographic transition, and social stability,” said Chris Morris, head of the ADB NGO and civil society centre and leading ADB’s Youth for Asia initiative.
(Edited by Suman Singh )
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