India experienced severe working-hour and employment losses in 2020 and 2021, and Indian youth employment deteriorated in 2021 compared to 2020, according to the Global Employment Trends for Youth 2022 report released by the International Labour Organisation on Thursday. The recovery in youth employment is still lagging globally, the report says confirming that COVID-19 has hurt young people more than any other age group.
It finds that the pandemic has worsened the numerous labour market challenges facing those aged between 15 and 24 years. Youngsters in this age group experienced a much higher percentage loss in employment than adults since early 2020. “The total global number of unemployed youth is estimated to reach 73 million in 2022, a slight improvement from 2021 (75 million), but still six million above the pre-pandemic level of 2019,” the report said.
In India, the report said surveys conducted by the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy show that the youth employment participation rate declined by 0.9 percentage points over the first nine months of 2021 relative to its value in 2020, while it increased by 2 percentage points for adults over the same time period. “The situation is particularly severe for very young people aged 15-20 years,” the report said.
It also warns that the unemployment rate of young people in the Asia and Pacific region is projected to reach 14.9% in 2022, the same as the global average, although there are important divergences between subregions and countries. “Quality education and training opportunities are required to create decent jobs, especially in green, blue and digital economies, and to set economies on the path towards greater sustainability, inclusiveness and resilience,” Satoshi Sasaki, Deputy Director, ILO Decent Work Team for South Asia and Country Office for India said.
In India, the report added that school closures lasted 18 months and among the 24 crore school-going children, only 8% of such children in rural areas and 23% in urban areas had adequate access to online education. “Given the deeply unequal access to online resources in developing countries, children from socio-economically disadvantaged families, which are the large majority, had almost no access to education,” the report said.
It said school closures not only prevented new learning, but also led to the phenomenon of “learning regression”, that is, children forgetting what they had learned earlier. “In India, 92% of children on average lost at least one foundational ability in language and 82% lost at least one foundational ability in mathematics,” the report said citing studies.
The report appreciated the MGNREGA and said it has played an important role in providing paid employment, particularly for women, but also in carbon sequestration because of the Act’s focus on natural resources, such as land, water and trees, which provide adaptation benefits.
It added that India has a very low youth female labour market participation and Indian young women experienced larger relative employment losses than young men in 2021 and 2022. “In general, the high youth employment losses in India drive up the global average employment losses. Young Indian men account for 16% of young men in the global labour market, while the corresponding share for young Indian women is just 5%,” the report said.
The study found out that teachers in non-state schools are often paid significantly less than those in state schools. “Teachers in low-fee private schools in India, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan are paid between one eighth and one half of what their counterparts in the state sector receive,” it added. It added that domestic work is a highly informal sector in India, and wages are extremely low and young women and girls are vulnerable to abuse. “Reports of abuse suffered by young domestic workers are common, including verbal and physical abuse, and sexual exploitation,” the report said.