Is this pandemic paving a way to a ‘lockdown generation’?


The current COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a massive increase in unemployment as companies fire employees every day due to lack of funds. It has affected the young workers the most, forcing more than one in six people aged under 29 to stop working, the UN stated on Wednesday. In a recent study, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) stated that the virus has affected young people in a disproportionate manner and that it could affect their work, opportunities, and their career paths for decades to come.

“I don’t think it is giving way to hyperbole to talk about the danger of a lockdown generation,” ILO chief Guy Ryder told a virtual press conference. “As we recover from the pandemic, a lot of young people are simply going to be left behind. Big numbers,” he said, warning that “the danger is… that this initial shock to young people will last a decade or longer.”

“People will be permanently scarred by the immediate effects of the pandemic.” The global unemployment rate for youth, before the pandemic, was 13.6% (in 2019), highest among every group. Around 260 million young people were neither studying nor employed. The ILO said that it had expected the increase to be 10.7%.

Although all the age groups are suffering, the UN data pointed to studies from various countries, and they all indicated the same- “a massive increase” in youth unemployment, especially young women, since February. A survey of people aged 29 and under concluded that over 17 per cent of the youth who were in the workspace, had been laid off due to the pandemic.

The report claimed that the youth are facing a “triple shock” from the pandemic. It is not only jeopardizing their employment, but has also shaken their education, and also has made it difficult to navigate or enter the workspace or labour market. Half the students in the survey expect their education to be stretched out, while 10% believe that they won’t be able to complete it at all. A staggering 60% of young women and 53% of men claimed to be uncertain about their future work prospects.

The ILO study and report warned that there is an immense need for training programmes and employment guarantee schemes for the youth. “If their talent and energy is sidelined by a lack of opportunity or skills it will damage all our futures and make it much more difficult to rebuild a better, post-COVID economy,” Ryder warned.

By Yukta Baid


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