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Despite the pandemic, young people remain optimistic

New ILO research found that young women, young adults and adolescents in low-income countries are most affected.

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Despite the pandemic, young people remain optimistic
Despite the pandemic, young people remain optimistic

This story originally appeared in the World Economic Forum

By Johnny Wood, Senior Writer, Formatting Content

  • A new survey polled young people – hard hit by COVID – around the world.
  • Young women, young adults and low-income countries are hardest hit.
  • But more than a third of young people said they either often or constantly look to the future with optimism.

The impact of the pandemic on young people has been “systematic, profound and disproportionate,” according to new research by the International Labor Organization (ILO), with young women, young adults and youth in low-income countries being the most affected.

The Global Youth and COVID-19 Survey polled 12,000 respondents from 112 countries aged 18 to 29. The results, recorded in April and May 2020, are the closest to a snapshot of how school closings, closure restrictions and economic slowdown have affected the lives, learning and livelihoods of young people.

Despite the upheaval and missed opportunities, there is optimism for the years to come.

Learning was interrupted

The closure of schools, universities and training organizations affected 73% of those surveyed. Almost one in eight saw that the provision of education and training had been completely discontinued since the beginning of the pandemic.

And despite efforts to continue education through distance learning or online face-to-face learning, 65% of young people said they learned less during the crisis.

Percentage of adolescents (18 to 29 years old) who said that their studies or education had been interrupted since the start of the pandemic.

Percentage of young people (18 to 29 years old) who said that their studies or training had been interrupted since the beginning of the pandemic / Image: ILO

The abrupt transition to online teaching has been more effective in some parts of the world as internet access, availability of computer equipment, and digital teaching materials and skills have improved. Many students in poorer countries with limited access to the Internet and resources had further disruptions in their education.

More than half of respondents believed the pandemic would delay their education, while 9% believed the crisis could cause their education to fail.

Optimism at work

Youth unemployment was a global problem even before the pandemic, as young people between the ages of 15 and 24 were three times more likely to be unemployed than those over 25. But the COVID-19 crisis has made the situation worse.

One in six young people surveyed have stopped working since the pandemic, including those who have lost their jobs and those who continue to work but have no work hours, according to the survey. Almost a quarter of 18- to 24-year-olds who worked before the pandemic stopped working, compared with just 13% of 25 to 29-year-olds. Sectors such as back office support, services, and sales were hit hard by company closings and job losses, with high levels of temporary, seasonal, and poorly paid jobs typically attracting the highest number of workers. young boys.

More than half of the employees who reported a partial reduction in working hours had a drop in income, while almost a quarter of those who did not change their working hours also received lower wages.

What are the consequences for the future?

Perception of young people (18 to 29 years old) about future career prospects.

Perception of young people (18 to 29 years old) about future career prospects. / Picture: ILO

Two fifths of respondents around the world were optimistic about their future career prospects, and more men than women said they were confident. Slightly fewer people looked ahead uncertainly, while 16% expressed fear of their career opportunities.

Amid hope and resilience, almost half of the young people surveyed said they had been looking for new training or learning opportunities since the beginning of the pandemic.

Coupled with the surge in interest in developing new knowledge and skills, 35% of young people said they were optimistic about the future at some point, and the same percentage expressed these feelings frequently or constantly.

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