The number of youths who can’t find a job around the world this year is set to reach 73 million — six million more than before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic — the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) said in a statement on Thursday.

According to the ILO, the pandemic has caused many additional problems for 15 to 24-year-olds who’ve experienced “much higher” unemployment than older workers since the global health emergency was declared in early 2020.

It added that young women have struggled more than their male counterparts to find work, noting that Arab nations are expected to see the highest levels of youth unemployment by the end of the year, compared to the global average.

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on youth labour markets around the world,” said Martha Newton — ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy.

“It’s exposed a number of shortcomings in the way the needs of young people are addressed, especially the most vulnerable first-time job seekers, school dropouts, fresh graduates with little experience, and those who remain inactive not by choice.”

Speaking at the launch of ILO’s report, ‘Global Employment Trends for Youth 2022: Investing in transforming futures for young people’, Newton said that the share of unemployed youths in 2020 rose to 23.3%. This represents an increase of 1.5% from 2019 and represents a level not seen in at least 15 years, the ILO report found.

“This group of young people are at particular risk of seeing their labour market opportunities and outcomes deteriorate over the longer-term as ‘scarring’ effects take hold,” the report noted.

The report’s takeaways include the worrying finding that young women are worse off than young men when it comes to finding a job. This year, fewer than three in 10 young women globally are expected to be in work, compared to well over four in 10 young men.

“The gender gap, which has shown little sign of closing over the past two decades, is largest in lower-middle-income countries at 17.3 percentage points, and smallest in high-income countries at 2.3 percentage points.”

Furthermore, Arab states have the highest and the fastest growing unemployment rate of young people worldwide, projected at 24.8% by the end of 2022.

“The situation is worse for young women in the region, with 42.5% of them being unemployed in 2022, which is almost three times as high as the global average for young women (14.5%),” the ILO said.

To address the problem, the ILO urged governments to implement sustainable green and blue policy measures. According to the report, this could generate an additional 8.4m jobs for young people by 2030.

Targeted investments in digital technologies could also absorb high numbers of young workers, the ILO maintained.

By achieving universal broadband coverage by 2030, some 24m new jobs could be created worldwide, with young workers taking 6.4m of them.

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