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COVID-19 Lockdown Generation of Young People Suffers Massive Job Losses: ILO 


FILE PHOTO: International Labor Organization Director-General Guy Ryder speaks at a news conference in Beijing, Nov. 21, 2019.

Fifteen- to 24-year-olds around the world are suffering huge unemployment since the coronavirus hit their jobs earlier this year. Data from the International Labor Organization (ILO) show young people have lost jobs at a faster and greater rate than other segments of society.

The ILO said 13.6%, or around 267 million young people worldwide were not employed or engaged in education or training at the end of last year. Those pre-pandemic figures are higher than before the 2008 global financial crisis. ILO Director General Guy Ryder says the situation since then has become considerably worse.

“Perhaps the most important conclusion in our monitor is that of young people who were working prior to the pandemic, well more than one in six of those young people is now no longer working," Ryder said. "They have been basically ejected from their jobs. Those who are still working have suffered a major reduction in their working time of some 23%.”

Women more seriously affected

The ILO monitor finds young women are more seriously affected by the rapid increase in youth unemployment than young men. It said the pandemic also is disrupting education and skills training, which will hurt their chances of finding work and consign most to future low-paying, dead-end jobs.

Ryder said the so-called lockdown generation will face the danger of permanent exclusion from the labor market. He warns young people will be left behind in big numbers as the world emerges from the pandemic.

“This initial shock to young people will last a decade or longer than a decade," Ryder said. "It will affect the trajectory of working people, of young working people throughout their working lives. So, it will be people who will be permanently scarred by the immediate effect of the pandemic.”

Youth face anxiety, depression

Ryder said available evidence shows more than half of the world’s young people are vulnerable to anxiety and depression. He said the pandemic and loss of job opportunities will likely increase the number afflicted by mental health conditions.

The ILO is calling for urgent, large-scale and targeted policies to support youth. It said governments must invest in the future of young people by offering education and training programs.

ILO chief Ryder warns sidelining young people with a lack of opportunity or skills will make it much more difficult to rebuild a better, post-COVID-19 economy.

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