ADB experts: Covid may spur ‘lockdown generation’ with poor access to job markets

Asian Development Bank (ADB) experts said the Covid-19 pandemic could create a “lockdown generation” wherein young workers experience difficulties in entering the workplace and experience shorter employment.

In an Asian Development Blog, ADB Senior Youth Employment Specialist Helen Osborne, Senior Economist Paul Vandenberg and Principal Social Development Specialist Chris Morris said preventing a lockdown generation requires state intervention.

They said helping young workers would require wage subsidies from governments;  job creation and search assistance; training, reskilling and upskilling; and entrepreneurship assistance.

“They [young workers] are suffering a double impact from both layoffs and work-hour reductions on the labor demand side and disruptions to education and training on the supply side. The Covid-19 crisis risks creating a ‘lockdown generation,’” the authors said.

Osborne, Vandenberg, and Morris said the government can help employers by providing a wage subsidy to avoid layoffs and retain young workers during the pandemic.

The authors also said the government can stimulate demand for job creation targeted for young workers by creating employment opportunities.

They also said a time-bound social assistance for young jobseekers can be combined with supporting access to relevant information about labor market opportunities.

Further, the government can also opt to provide young people with training to enter or reenter the work force.

The authors also said governments can invest in youth entrepreneurship. They said past economic shocks, the number of young self-employed workers spiked, so it is critical that self-employment become a space for productivity and self-fulfillment.

“The public and private sectors, civil society and youth themselves must work together to protect young people’s jobs through the crisis,” the authors said.

Beyond the crisis, they said, young workers can also find employment opportunities in the green and digital economies, as well as flexible but secured forms of employment.


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