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COVID-19 and its Impact on Youth and Employment

The crisis caused by the coronavirus code-named COVID-19 has brought in its wake serious shocks to countries across the globe. Its negative impact has not only been felt on public health but has also had severe implications for the economic, social and all other facets of human life. Although COVID-19 is known more generally to infect adults and people with underlying conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, compared to the youth because of their strong immune system, however, some youth have still succumbed to the disease.

 

 

Pre-pandemic events

 

To contain the spread of the virus globally, the first wave of lockdown, closing of borders and airports came into effect during later part of March 2020.

                                   

Youth and employment
Figure 1: Youth selling on the street during COVID-19 Source: ILO.org

Image from Unsplash.com

This decision affected the airlines (both international and local), entertainment, tourism and hospitality industry, financial institutions, education, agriculture, oil and gas, small and medium enterprises. Evans and Dromey (2020) in their study predicted a further impact on the already existing social and regional disparities and indicated that the measures aimed at curtailing the spread of the virus had led to job cuts which affected mostly, youth, women and lower salaried earners. For instance, in Australia, unemployment soared by about 4 per cent and underemployment grew by nearly 5 per cent following the beginning of COVID-19. The workforce data for May 2020, indicate that for the first time in decades, almost two in three young people were not having jobs that could satisfy their needs (Blundell et al., 2020). Furthermore, most student workers at the Gödöllö Campus of Szent István University, lost their jobs during the beginning of the pandemic. One colleague had to relocate to Szeged (a city near the southern border of Hungary) for a summer job.

 

 

Effects on the youth

 

In a social briefing on jobs and COVID-19 in Hungary, Moldicz Csabá (2020) indicated that Hungary’s unemployment rate rose from 3.6 percent in 2019 to 5.1 percent when the coronavirus pandemic reached its then peak in the country back in May 2020. The number of unemployed meanwhile rose to 224,000 between April and June 2020, a level 66,000 higher than the figure recorded earlier in the same year (Moldicz, 2020).

 

Meanwhile, Gonzalez et al. (2020) in their global survey on youth and COVID-19 in which they collated over 12,000 responses from 112 countries between April and May 2020, discovered that the pandemic had affected the youth immeasurably, those in employment particularly so. One out of six young persons (17 percent) in employment had lost their jobs during the pandemic. It was again revealed that youth within the ages of 18-24 in low skilled jobs were the most affected. Moreover, 42 percent of employed youth had their revenue slashed especially those in developing nations (Gonzalez et al., 2020).

 

Youth working in a bakery
Figure 2: Youth in a bakery during COVID-19 Source: ILO.org

Obviously, COVID-19 and its associated shockwaves are impacting the quality and quantity of business opportunities available for the youth, be it formal or informal employment. The United Nations’ Department for Economic and Social Affairs report on youth and COVID-19 (United Nations, 2020) indicates that 77 percent youth across the globe are employed in the informal sector and 126 million of them live below the poverty line. The authors of report further argue that youth who fall under this category are also at risk for contracting the coronavirus or faced with increased health-related risks because they are unable to work from home but have had to be present at the workplace all the time. The implied reduction of youth with employable skills as a consequence could lead to a decline of skills on the employment market overall and make transitioning into adulthood and family obligations difficult for the young people concerned (Inanc, 2020).

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Author:

Dolores Mensah Hervie

Article Writer & Content Contributor

Dolorae Mensah Hervie GiLE article writer

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