MANILA - One in 6 young people have lost their jobs since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic while those who remain employed have seen their working hours cut by 23 percent, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday.
The ILO said the "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."
There are around 267 million young people not in employment, education or training worldwide, the ILO said in a statement.
Employed people aged 15 to 24 were also more likely to be in forms of work that leave them vulnerable, such as low paid occupations, informal sector work, or overseas employment, ILO added.
The pandemic is inflicting a triple shock on young people, the United Nations labor agency said, as it destroys employment, disrupts education and training, and places major obstacles in the way of those seeking to enter the labor market or to move between jobs.
"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 sidelined 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,” said ILO Director-General Guy
The ILO called for "urgent, large-scale and targeted policy responses to support youth, including broad-based employment/training guarantee programs in developed countries, and employment-intensive programs and guarantees in low- and middle-income economies."
The UN labor agency, meanwhile, also noted that rigorous testing and tracing of COVID-19 infections “is strongly related to lower labor market disruption…. [and] substantially smaller social disruptions than confinement and lockdown measures.”
It said that in countries with strong testing and tracing, the average fall in working hours is reduced by as much as 50 percent.
Testing and tracing reduce reliance on strict confinement measures, promote public confidence and so encourages consumption, supports employment, and helps minimize operational disruption at the workplace.
In addition, testing and tracing can itself create new jobs, even if temporary, which can be targeted towards youth and other priority groups, ILO said.
“Testing and tracing can be an important part of the policy package if we are to fight fear, reduce risk and get our economies and societies moving again quickly,” said Ryder.