The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is inflicting a shock to the employability of the vulnerable youth population in Bangladesh, according to a report of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
"The pandemic is inflicting a real shock on Bangladesh's vulnerable youth population," said Tuomo Poutiainen, country director of ILO Bangladesh. "Job prospects have vastly reduced. For youth to be provided paths for a positive future, education and skills training need to be greatly invested in. Sadly, young women workers -- who were already struggling in low-paid and informal sector jobs -- are being worst hit.
"The ILO is working together with the government to design and develop education and skills development schemes, entrepreneurship training, as well as employment and training guarantee schemes that specifically target young people, particularly those who are the most vulnerable," he added.
More than one in four youth (27.39 percent) of Bangladesh are not in employment, education or training (NEET), the ILO said.
With some 60 percent of the population being of working age, including about 32.4 million workers aged between 15 and 29 years, the country is yet to capitalise on this young "demographic dividend" and needs more training, apprenticeships and entrepreneurship opportunities, it added.
Globally, 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, ILO said in the report.
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, according to the 4th edition of the report titled 'ILO Monitor: Covid-19 and the world of work' released today.
The pandemic is inflicting a triple blow to young people: increasing layoffs, disrupting education and training, and placing obstacles for those seeking to enter the labour market or switch between jobs, the ILO's latest data reveals.
At 13.6 percent, the youth unemployment rate in 2019 was already higher than for any other group, with around 267 million young people worldwide not in employment, education or training (NEET).
Most of the youth (15-24-year-olds) who were employed were in forms of work that leave them vulnerable, such as low-paying occupations and informal sector work.
"The Covid-19 economic crisis is hitting young people – especially women – harder and faster than any other group. 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 rebuild a better, post-Covid economy," said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.
The Monitor called for urgent, large-scale and targeted policy responses to support youth, including broad-based employment or training guarantee programmes in developed countries, and employment-intensive programmes and guarantees in low- and middle-income economies.
The 4th edition of the Monitor also looked at measures to create a safe environment for returning to work.
As opposed to confinement and lockdown measures, rigorous testing and tracing (TT) of Covid-19 infections is strongly related to substantially lower labour market disruption and social disruptions, according to an ILO statement.
In countries with strong testing and tracing, the average fall in working hours is reduced by as much as 50 per cent.
There are three reasons for this: TT reduces reliance on strict confinement measures; promotes public confidence and so encourages consumption and supports employment; and helps minimise operational disruption at the workplace, ILO said in the statement.
In addition, testing and tracing can itself create new jobs, even if temporary, which can be targeted towards youth and other priority groups, it also read.
"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.
An estimated 10.7 percent of working hours were lost during the second quarter of 2020 across the globe, the ILO Monitor revealed, which is equivalent to 305 million full-time jobs, assuming a 48-hour working week.
An estimated 4.8 percent of working hours were lost during the first quarter of 2020 worldwide, which was equivalent to approximately 135 million full-time jobs, it added.
The Monitor reiterated its call for immediate and urgent measures to support workers and enterprises along the ILO's four-pillar strategy: stimulating the economy and employment; supporting enterprises, jobs and incomes; protecting workers in the workplace; relying on social dialogue for solutions.