ISLAMABAD: Though the pace of recovery in youth employment is still lagging in the aftermath of Covid-19, a new report by International Labour Organisation (ILO) says that less than half of the global youth employment deficit in 2020 is projected to be recovered by 2022.

The ILO report, “Global Employment Trends for Youth 2022”, released on Thursday, says the global deficit fell to 5.9 per cent and is projected to decrease further to 4.5pc in 2022. This implies a projected youth employment deficit of 19 million jobs in 2022.

The report, which marks the observance of International Youth Day on August 12, emphasised that as countries reassess their policy stance in the recovery phase, they need to invest in longer-term transformative approaches and overhaul their economic structures to make them more inclusive, sustainable and resilient. Accordingly, the report draws on a global macro-econometric model to quantify the economic and employment impacts of policy measures aimed at facilitating such transitions.

The unemployment rate of young people in the Asia and Pacific region is projected to reach 14.9pc in 2022, the same as the global average, although there are important divergences between sub-regions and countries.

Sees global deficit falling to 4.5pc in 2022

Young women are worse off than young men, exhibiting a much lower employment-to-population ratio (EPR). In 2022, 27.4pc of young women globally are projected to be in employment, compared to 40.3pc of young men, it says.

At the global level, the recovery of youth employment lags behind that of adults, who by 2022 are projected to recover more than half of their employment deficit in 2020. The youth labour force participation rate is projected to increase worldwide in 2022, but is nevertheless expected to remain more than one percentage point below the 2019 level. Global youth unemployment is projected to decline to 73 million in 2022, which would still be 6 million above the 2019 level, the report says.

The global employment deficit of young people relative to 2019 amounted to 8.2pc in 2020, whereas the corresponding deficit for adults was less than half of that. Young people were especially affected because firms that survived the crisis sought first and foremost to retain workers, while new recruitment collapsed.

In addition, young workers were less likely to have the seniority and types of contracts marking them out for retention by employers and hence were more likely to lose their job. Moreover, government-sponsored job retention schemes, where they existed, were less effective in protecting young workers.

The rise in youth unemployment by around 4m in 2020 grossly underestimates the labour market impact of the crisis. Global youth employment declined by 34m between 2019 and 2020. Most of the employment loss translated into labour force exit owing to the extraordinary circumstances of the crisis. The potential labour force, which comprises young people who are not part of the labour force but are marginally attached to the labour market, rose by 7m. The number of those outside the extended labour force rose by 27m.

The recovery in terms of youth unemployment rates is projected to diverge between low- and middle-income countries on the one hand, and high-income countries on the other. Indeed, high-income countries are the only ones expected to return by 2022 to youth unemployment rates close to what they were in 2019, while the rates are projected to remain well over 1 percentage point above their pre-crisis values in the other country income groups.

The Covid-19 crisis not only affected the employment prospects of young people but also disrupted the quality and quantity of education and training. Widespread school closures affected more than 1.6 billion learners. Disrupted education can cause significant learning losses, creating both intergenerational and intra-generational inequalities.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2022

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