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Worldwide worry over job losses
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 31 - 05 - 2020

A UAE newspaper said on Sunday that the observation by the International Labor Organization (ILO) that more than one in six young people have stopped working since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic while those who remain employed have seen their working hours cut by 23 percent comes as a shocking revelation and needs to be addressed earnestly.
"According to the ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work, 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," the Gulf Today added.
"It is distressing to note that the pandemic is inflicting a triple shock on young people. Not only is it destroying their employment, but it is also disrupting education and training, and placing major obstacles in the way of those seeking to enter the labor market or to move between jobs.
"At 13.6 percent, the youth unemployment rate in 2019 was already higher than for any other group. There were around 267 million young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) worldwide.
"Those 15-24 year olds who were employed were also more likely to be in forms of work that leave them vulnerable, such as low paid occupations, informal sector work, or as migrant workers. The COVID-19 economic crisis is hitting young people – especially women – harder and faster than any other group," the UAE daily continued.
It went on to note that the Americas region has reasons to worry, as it will bear the brunt of an estimated 305 million job losses that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause worldwide between April and June, as per the ILO. "The Americas had jumped from being the least affected region in labour market terms in the first quarter to being the most affected, with an expected 13.1 percent drop in working hours in the second."
"As ILO Director General Guy Ryder points out, 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 side-lined 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.
"Measures are essential to create a safe environment for returning to work. Rigorous testing and tracing (TT) of COVID-19 infections, is strongly related to lower labour market disruption and substantially smaller social disruptions than confinement and lockdown measures," the English language daily went on to say.
"In countries with strong testing and tracing, the average fall in working hours is reduced by as much as 50 percent, as per ILO. There are three reasons for this: TT reduces reliance on strict confinement measures; promotes the public confidence and so encourages consumption and supports employment; and helps minimise operational disruption at the workplace.
"The ILO has correctly called for urgent, large-scale and targeted policy responses to support youth, including broad-based employment/training guarantee programmes in developed countries, and employment-intensive programs and guarantees in low- and middle-income economies," it added.
"Global solidarity and swift measures are the need of the hour. Measures for economic reactivation should follow a job-rich approach, backed by stronger employment policies and institutions, better-resourced and comprehensive social protection systems.
"International coordination on stimulus packages and debt relief measures will also be critical to making recovery effective and sustainable. It goes without saying that as the pandemic and the jobs crisis evolve, the need to protect the most vulnerable becomes even more urgent," the Sharjah-based daily concluded. — WAM


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