The multiple shocks facing young people from the coronavirus pandemic could result in them being scarred throughout their working lives, creating a "lockdown generation," the United Nations' labor agency warned.
More than one in six young people, aged 18-29, have stopped working since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the UN's International Labour Organization said in its fourth report on the impact of Covid-19 on the global workforce.
While this is only a slight increase on the nearly 14% of young people unemployed in 2019, the ILO pointed out that the youth unemployment rate was already higher than any other group.
Meanwhile, those young people who had remained employed during the pandemic had seen their working hours fall by 23%.
The ILO said that more than four in 10 young people, aged 15-24, employed globally were working in hard-hit sectors when the crisis began and nearly 77% of this cohort were in informal jobs, compared to 60% of adult workers aged 25 and above.
And another survey the ILO recently conducted with UNESCO and the World Bank found that 98% of respondents reported a partial or complete closure of schools and training centers.
The ILO therefore argued that young people were being "disproportionately affected" by the coronavirus crisis, with these multiple shocks to their education, training, employment and income.
Guy Ryder, ILO director-general, said if young people's "talent and energy is side-lined by a lack of opportunity or skills it will damage all our futures and make it much more difficult to re-build a better, post-COVID economy."
He argued that "significant and immediate action" needed to be taken to improve their situation, with the ILO recommending programs guaranteeing employment and training be implemented in both developed, as well as low- and middle-income economies.
The ILO also said in its report that testing and tracing Covid-19 infections was "strongly related to lower labour market disruption," than confinement and lockdown measures.
The reduction in working hours halved on average in countries with strong testing and tracing methods, it said. This was because it rolled back the reliance on strict lockdown measures, promoted public confidence and helped minimize operational disruption in the workplace.
More than 5.6 million people worldwide have contracted the coronavirus, while 351,146 have died from the disease, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.