Pandemic could inflict severe damage on youth: UN

Agence France-Presse . Geneva | Published: 02:00, Aug 13,2020


The United Nations warned Tuesday that the coronavirus crisis could have a severe and lasting impact on the life prospects of young adults without swift remedial action.

The UN’s International Labour Organisation said the career prospects of people aged 18 to 29 were taking a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, while students faced a ‘gloomy outlook’ for its effects on their education.

The ILO report entitled ‘Youth and COVID-19: impacts on jobs, education, rights and mental well-being’ said young adults had been disproportionately affected by the crisis.

The report was based on the Global Survey on Youth and COVID-19, a study of more than 12,000 young people aged 18 to 29, conducted online in 23 languages across 112 countries between April 21 and May 21.

The respondents were largely educated young adults with internet access, representing students and working young people with a tertiary education.

‘The study finds the impact of the pandemic on young people to be systematic, deep and disproportionate. It has been particularly hard on young women, younger youth and youth in lower-income countries,’ the report said.

‘Unless urgent action is taken, young people are likely to suffer severe and long-lasting impacts from the pandemic.’

The survey found that 13 per cent had been left without any access to courses, teaching or training, while more than 70 per cent said they were adversely affected by the closure of their educational establishments.

With courses moving online, the survey revealed the ‘deep digital divides that exist, especially for youth in lower-income countries, as well as the gloomy outlook that young people hold as regards learning outcomes’, said the report.

It called for greater access to online learning opportunities and teaching programmes tailored to a virtual audience.

‘The pandemic is also inflicting a heavy toll on young workers, destroying their employment and undermining their career prospects,’ the ILO report said.

It found that 17 per cent who were employed before the outbreak had stopped working altogether.

Working hours among employed youth fell by nearly a quarter and 42 per cent reported a reduction in their income.

‘Urgent, large-scale and targeted employment policy responses are needed to protect a whole generation of young people from having their employment prospects permanently scarred by the crisis,’ the report said.

The survey found that 17 per cent were ‘probably affected’ by anxiety and depression.

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