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India's young white-collar workers are front-row in the firing line

People aged 15-24 years will be much harder hit than adults in the immediate crisis and face a higher risk of longer-term economic and social costs.

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Two-thirds of firm-level apprenticeships and three quarters of internships were completely interrupted during the pandemic, the ILO-ADB report shows.
The Indian job market has seen a tumultuous few months amid the Covid-19 crisis with huge job losses and soaring unemployment. But that is just the overall story. For one specific segment, the threat seems to be disproportionately bigger: white-collar jobs are front-row in the firing line.

Around 41 lakh of India’s youth has lost jobs because of the pandemic while employment prospects have gotten severely challenged in Asia and the Pacific, according to a joint report by the International Labour Organization and the Asian Development Bank.

Two-thirds of firm-level apprenticeships and three quarters of internships were completely interrupted during the pandemic, the ILO-ADB report shows, adding that people aged 15-24 years will be much harder hit than adults in the immediate crisis and face a higher risk of longer-term economic and social costs.


Nearly 50 lakh salaried jobs were lost in July, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). This took the total job losses to around 1.89 crore despite a marginal recovery in the rate of employment driven by the informal sector. "While salaried jobs are not lost easily, once lost they are also far more difficult to retrieve. Therefore, their ballooning numbers are a source of worry," CMIE cautioned.

According to another ILO report, India being a lower-middle income country spells further trouble for its educated youth and job market. The rate of youth unemployment is higher for low-income and lower-middle income countries with advanced education levels, the report shows.

"In low-income countries, workers who struggle the most to find suitable jobs are those with an advanced educational level, while in high-income countries, it is those with a basic educational level or less," said ILO.
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Simply put: there is a higher share of the highly educated among the unemployed than the employed. People with advanced education are over-represented among the unemployed in 82 per cent of low-income countries and only 10 per cent of high-income countries. Furthermore, skilled jobs may even be scarce in low-income countries, creating a mismatch between skills required versus the skills of jobseekers, added ILO.

Even for the employed youth, there is not much to be happy about. Only 23 per cent of Indian companies plan to give increments in 2021-22, according to Deloitte India's 2020 Workforce and Increment Trends Survey. This is largely due to organisations now taking future performance into account when deciding increments, said Anandorup Ghose, partner at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India.

Prior to the lockdown, companies primarily looked at the past year’s performance to determine the increment budgets.

The ILO-ADB report calls for large-scale targeted measures to generate jobs for the youth and protect future opportunities for the region.
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"Prioritizing youth employment in the Covid-19 recovery process will improve Asia and the Pacific's future prospects for inclusive and sustainable growth, demographic transition and social stability," PTI quoted Chris Morris, head of the ADB NGO and civil society center and leading ADB's Youth for Asia initiative, as saying.
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