A labour waits for customers at a roadside in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. File
"I am suffering a lot without work. I feel like a human with a body but no soul, especially when I look at the kids and wonder: How will I provide for them?” he said.
A woman wearing a face mask plays accordion to get some money in Mytishchi, just outside Moscow. AP
Naim is not alone: The UN labour agency reported that more than one in every six young workers globally have stopped working during the pandemic, warning that long-term fallout could lead to a "lockdown generation” if steps aren’t taken to ease the crisis.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO), in a new look at the impact of the pandemic on jobs, says that work hours equivalent to 305 million full-time jobs have been lost due to the COVID-19 crisis. Many young workers face economic hardship and despair about the future.
A woman operates a machine to crush sugarcane into juice at a roadside on the outskirts of Hyderabad, India. AFP
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder warned of the "danger” that young workers aged 15 to 28 in particular could face, from inability to get proper training or gain access to jobs that could extend well beyond the pandemic and last far into their working careers.
In a survey, ILO and its partners found that over one in six of such young workers were no longer working during the pandemic, many with their workplaces shuttered or their usual clienteles stuck at home. Young people were already in a precarious position relative to other age categories, with work rates still below those before the 2008 economic crisis even before the pandemic hit.
A woman joins others in a protest asking the state of Florida to fix its unemployment system in Miami Beach. AFP
"They have been basically ejected from their jobs,” Ryder said, referring to those who have stopped working. "There is a danger of long-term exclusion. The scarring of young people who are excluded from the labor market early in their careers is well attested by the literature.”
"So I don’t think it is giving way to hyperbole to talk about the danger of a lock-down generation,” Ryder said, noting the psychological distress that can quickly affect younger workers who worry about the future of their budding work lives.
Naim said he's living off savings, but expects the money to run out in 6 to 7 months.
"I don’t know what I’ll do after that - the future is a big unknown,” he said. "I’m scared of the coming days. God forbid, if there is a health emergency with the family and I don’t have enough money for it because I don’t have a job, and the government is unable to help.”
ILO says governments can help with measures like increasing state support for unemployed workers, taking steps to guarantee jobs and training, and rolling out testing and tracing measures that boost workplace safety and help workers and consumers get back out more quickly.
Migrant labourers walk on a road as they wait for transportation to go back to their hometowns in India. AFP
The Middle East is just one of the world's many regions struggling to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak. After first peaking in China, where it began, then Europe, now it's the Americas that is seen as the main epicenter. But it's a global issue.
Sifiso Ditha from Soweto township, south of Johannesburg, had relied on part-time construction jobs to get by while attending a local college. The 25-year-old, who lives with his grandparents, used the money to buy toiletries, food and other essential items.
The pandemic has erased that income.
"The construction sector was closed during the lockdown, so there was absolutely nothing," Ditha said.
There has been some easing of the lockdown since, but employment remains scarce.
This combination of pictures shows the feet of migrant workers during a lockdown in Ghaziabad and Allahabad, India. AFP
"Many projects are either put on hold or they are not taking anymore people,” Ditha said.
Of those still working, nearly one in four — or 23% — have seen their working hours reduced, the ILO said, pointing to a "triple shock” faced by young workers: Destruction of their work, disruption to their training and education, and obstacles moving in the work force or entering it in the first place.
Of the 178 million young workers employed around the world, more than 40% were in "hard hit sectors when the crisis began,” such as food services and hospitality industries, the ILO said. More than three-fourths are in "informal” jobs, including 94% of young workers in Africa alone.
"We run the risk of creating a situation — in this sort of snapshot of pandemic — which will have lasting effects," Ryder told a virtual news conference from the ILO headquarters. "A lot of young people are simply going to be left behind in big numbers.
"And the danger is — and again, this is the lesson of past experience — that this initial shock to young people will last a decade or longer than a decade,” Ryder said. "It will affect the trajectory of working people, young working people, throughout their working lives.”
Recent data shows a shift to shopping online — according to Kantar consulting group, international e-commerce grew 41 per cent in only three months compared with 22 per cent growth for 2020 as a whole to date, as the pandemic "transformed" retail habits.
In a fresh study, the UN's International Labour Organisation (ILO) found that a full 8.8 per cent of global working hours were lost in 2020, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.
"Our results are important in this context because they show that being able to spend time outdoors under conditions of lockdown has a beneficial impact on psychological well being," said co-lead author Viren Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University.
Such people are simply not bothered about the outcome of their actions. According to a report in a section of the British media, police officers in Cumbria, UK, have booked motorists making non-essential journeys in the county.
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