GENEVA: The total global number of unemployed youths should fall to 73 million in 2022, down by two million from the year before, the United Nations said on Thursday.
However, the figure is still six million higher than the pre-pandemic level of 2019, with the recovery in youth unemployment lagging behind the bounceback in other age groups, the UN’s International Labour Organization said.
Between 2019 and 2020, those aged 15 to 24 experienced a much higher percentage loss in employment than the rest of the labour market, the ILO said in a report.
Their 300-page “Global Employment Trends for Youth 2022” update on key youth labour market indicators and trends said the pandemic exacerbated the market challenges generally facing young people.
Many dropped out of the labour force or failed to enter it together, due to the difficulty of finding a job during Covid-19 lockdowns and while businesses were closing due to the pandemic.
“The Covid-19 crisis has revealed a number of shortcomings in the way the needs of young people are addressed, especially the more vulnerable such as first-time job-seekers, school dropouts, fresh graduates with little experience and those who remain inactive not by choice,” said Martha Newton, the ILO’s deputy director-general for policy.
“What young people need most is well-functioning labour markets with decent job opportunities for those already participating in the labour market, along with quality education and training opportunities for those yet to enter it.”
The report said that 27.4 per cent of young women were projected to be in work in 2022, compared to 40.3 per cent of young men.
This gender gap “has shown little sign of closing over the past two decades”, the ILO said.
The gap is largest in lower-middle-income countries, at 17.3 percentage points, and smallest in high-income states, at 2.3 points.
The share of youth not in employment, education or training in 2020 — the latest year for which a global estimate is available — rose to 23.3 per cent, up 1.5 percentage points from 2019 to a level not seen in at least 15 years.
The global youth unemployment rate is projected to be 14.9 per cent in 2022. The report highlighted the differences in youth unemployment between the regions.
In Europe and central Asia, the rate is predicted to be 16.4 per cent, “but the actual and potential shocks of the war in Ukraine are highly likely to affect the results”.
The rate in Asia and the Pacific is set to match the global average at 14.9 per cent; In Latin America, it should hit a “worrying” 20.5 per cent; while in North America, the figure should be 8.3 per cent. The 12.7 per cent rate in Africa “masks the fact that many youths have chosen to withdraw from the labour market altogether”.
But the Arab states have the highest and fastest-growing unemployment rate of young people worldwide at 24.8 per cent — a figure that hits 42.5 per cent for young women in the region.
Green and blue future
On the positive side, the report said young people were well-placed to benefit from the expansion of the so-called green and blue economies, centred around the environment and sustainable ocean resources.
The study said an additional 8.4 million jobs could be created for young people by 2030 through green and blue investments, notably in clean and renewable energies, sustainable agriculture, recycling and waste management.
The report estimates that achieving universal broadband coverage by 2030 could lead to a net increase in employment of 24 million new jobs worldwide, of which 6.4 million would be taken by young people.
The report also estimates that investments in care sectors would create 17.9 million more jobs for young people by 2030.