Young people in the Asia and Pacific region will be hit hardest and likely bear the long-term economic costs of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a new report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The joint Tackling the COVID-19 Youth Employment Crisis in Asia and the Pacific report says COVID-19 has triggered a massive disruption of labor markets, which has had a disproportionate impact on youth unemployment.

Job loss among the youth will continue throughout 2020 and could result in youth unemployment rates doubling. In Fiji, the youth unemployment rate may rise from 14.8% to almost 30%, increasing up to 36.8% as the COVID-19 crisis gets drawn out.

“Young women, in particular, have been severely impacted by the spike in youth unemployment in the region, largely because they are overrepresented in the sectors most hit by the economic effects of COVID-19,” said ADB Pacific Subregional Office Regional Director Masayuki Tachiiri during the Pacific launch.

The joint report says about 100 million—nearly half of all the young people working in the region at the onset of the crisis—were employed in four hardest hit sectors: wholesale and retail trade and repair, manufacturing, rental and business services, and accommodation and food services.

“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 labor market.

"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,” said ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries Director Matin Karimli.

The joint report recommends targeted responses to address the youth unemployment crisis, such as comprehensive labor market policies including wage subsidies and public employment programs; job information and employment services expansion for young jobseekers; apprenticeship programs and demand-driven skills development; increased funds for upskilling and reskilling; and digital inclusion investment for equitable access to education, training, and entrepreneurship.

These interventions should reach the most vulnerable youth including the poorest and marginalized young women and meaningfully engage young people in policy development and social dialogue.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

Source: Joint Release, ADB and ILO