The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has warned that the coronavirus crisis deals a greater toll on young people. In a new report, the United Nations agency said that the young run the risk of being scarred throughout their working lives and form what the report calls a “lockdown generation.”
Young people face “a triple shock” because of the pandemic, argues the ILO report. Employment has gone down; education and training face massive disruption and many obstacles are in the way of those who want to enter the workforce or change careers.
The increase in unemployment has particularly affected young women, said the report. One in five have already stopped work since the outbreak began. However, those who have managed to stay employed have seen a decline in working hours by nearly a quarter.
The ILO estimates that prior to the crisis, over 40% of young people worked in accommodation, food services and retail – sectors that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Three quarters were informally employed, leaving them with little protection should they lose jobs. In Africa, that figure is much higher at over 90%.
Training and education – on-the-job programmes included – have been disrupted greatly, says the UN agency. Most of these trainings are now done at a distance through digital means, but only a few low-income countries have made that transition.
The ILO has called for targeted government intervention to ensure ample employment and training for young people in low- and middle-income countries that may require foreign support for finance and implementation.
The agency also stressed the importance of rigorous testing and infection tracing, as these methods translate to lower labour market disruption as opposed to lockdowns. The ILO also said that testing and tracing will improve the chances of an “employment-rich recovery.”