The current generation of young youths numbering 1.8 billion dominates one-quarter of the world’s population. The highest generation of young people the world has ever known. The youths are prepared with relevant skills to become an asset to socio-economic development. However, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the career path of young people. Even pre-pandemic, the labor market and opportunities for young youths were already insecure and precarious. And during the pandemic, the challenges of the economic disenfranchisement of young people have become a prominent issue globally.
Youth aged 18 to 24 are more confused than before about their career path. Career and educational plans were put on hold until the outbreak was over. As a result, their plans, hopes, and aspirations are in a fragile state. The coronavirus pandemic had a serious toll on the economy and job market. It poised to deepen an unemployment crisis that had already existed. Unemployment rates among young people are far higher than among adults. In 2020, youth employment dropped by 8.7% globally, while it dropped by only 3.7% for adults. Especially young women have been impacted by the decline in employment. The younger generation entering the world of work for the first time are left with confusion. And the people who had a job pre-pandemic are unemployed now. With seemingly fewer opportunities, finding a job for the newcomer is turning into a daunting experience.
The uncertainty has slumped the opportunities and has brought instability and chaos in the education and career sector. Lockdowns curtailed job opportunities as applications for training courses were either held up or no longer accepted. This makes it more difficult to find alternative employment and has borne out frustration among the young population. During the crisis, most of the youths assumed that their options for the future were limited. As a result of their increasing concern for their performance, their sleeping patterns were disrupted and their social interactions decreased. This forced young people into inactivity and discouragement. Consequently, these experiences had a huge impact on their mental health as well. Even after the pandemic, the effect on the global youth education and labor environment will be alarming.
Also, the restricted international movement due to the closure of national borders and lockdown policies has had a significant impact on young youth. The tourist industry, a major employer for young people has been hugely affected by international travel and restrictions to domestic mobility. Young youths traditionally have a higher tendency to migrate internationally for studies and job opportunities. Due to multiple lockdowns, enforced closure of non-essential businesses, and travel bans the scale of impact is immense.
The COVID-19 epidemic has hugely influenced the careering planning of young students. It has disrupted the labor market in a seismic way for youth and their chances of decent, long-term, and meaningful employment. The pandemic has expanded artificial intelligence and automation. The advancement in new online tools like video conferences is widely used today. The significant knock on the unemployment opportunities can be stabilized through this. As big companies and entrepreneurs are reluctant to return to full-time employment models. However, upliftment in temporary and part-time jobs can bring little stability and benefits to both parties.
Pre and post the crisis, the weak economic situation is expected to deteriorate further, leaving the youths on the edge. Young people need guidance and support to cope with these uncertain times. A rise in layoffs has severely disrupted youth education and training, leaving them economically inactive. In order to resolve this problem, a series of policy-driven initiatives and interventions are needed. Entrepreneurship and Employer-led programs that offer employment services to vulnerable youth can reduce the disruption to their career plans by creating new employment opportunities.