Asia Pacific governments told to target pandemic policies at getting young people back to work

10 Sep 20

Asian countries have been urged to address the youth unemployment crisis caused by Covid-19, by using schemes such as wage subsidies and large-scale public employment programmes.

 

Youth unemployment in the Asia Pacific region could double this year, and young people are more likely to bear the longer-term economic costs, according to a report from the Asian Development Bank and the International Labour Organisation.

Around 100 million young people in the region – nearly half of the total number working at the start of the crisis – were employed in the four sectors hit hardest: retail, manufacturing, business services and hospitality.

“The pandemic is inflicting a triple shock on young people: destroying their employment, disrupting education and training, and placing major obstacles in the way of those seeking to enter the labour market,” said Matin Karimli, director of the ILO’s Office for Pacific Island Countries.

“There is an urgent need to help young people develop resilience to face these challenges, as well as develop the capacity of institutions to implement effective measures.”

The report recommended that governments should specifically aim some of their policy responses at getting young people back to work.

It suggested wage subsidy schemes for hard-hit sectors, as well as sectors important for countries’ future development, including infrastructure building, green energy and education.

The Malaysian government has done this already, having announced financial incentives for the private sector to hire and train 300,000 people, including subsidies for taking on school leavers and graduates as apprentices.

The report also suggested job creation and placement programmes, such as the South Korean scheme to provide more than 550,000 jobs to young adults and low earners, including specific youth-targeted measures to create 50,000 “high tech” jobs in sectors such as content development and data management.

More access to youth training should also be created, in light of the severe impact on education, the report argued, with income stipends for poor households who would otherwise not be able to afford them.

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