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Covid-19 youth employment crisis in Asia and the Pacific global issues

  • Opinion by Simone Galimberti (Kathmandu, Nepal)
  • Inter Press Service

– The labor force for young people (15–24 years) has continued to decline. Between 1999 and 2019, despite the fact that the global youth population increased from 1 billion to 1.3 billion, the total number of young people working in the labor force decreased from 568 million to 497 million ”.

Although young people are the ones who can adapt and adapt most to the new technology, it is also those who are at greater risk of seeing job opportunities that were previously available now disappear.

With the pandemic and the many and overlapping crises it causes, the chances of a young person being employed are even weaker, especially in developing and low-income economies.

While in these nations a youth belonging to upper and middle class families is likely to navigate the pandemic successfully due to their skills but also due to their status and connections, vulnerable young people are instead stuck in the cycle of exclusion and lack of opportunity.

This is even more true if you live with a disability, whether it is physical or developmental or a psychosocial condition that prevents you from easily finding a job.

Given that the vast majority of young people living with disabilities in a developing country begin their search for a job with great disadvantage in relation to their peers without disabilities due to lack of high quality education and other opportunities that society offers, Covid-19 pandemic really risks further lowering their odds of a dignified livelihood.

A joint publication by the ILO and the Asian Development Bank, ADB, Dealing with the employment crisis for young people in Asia and the Pacific, clearly shows a bleak future for millions of young people who are striving to enter the labor market.

“Young employment opportunities in Asia and the Pacific are severely challenged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Young people will be hit harder than adults in the immediate crisis and will also bear higher economic and social costs in the long run, the report says.

A job for a young person with a disability, not only in Asia and the Pacific but elsewhere, is now an even more remote opportunity.

A recovery that could potentially unleash a positive revolution in global and national priorities, under the banner “build better”, is what experts from around the world have been striving for.

Such drastic changes to turbocharge more sustainable economies can also help make them more inclusive economies, guaranteeing a quantum leap in jobs for those left behind by the pandemic.

For a young person living with a disability, this means greater chances of finding a job together with better opportunities in the education system, a prerequisite for the former.

A change in the future prospects for this share would mean not only putting disability at the center of the government’s actions but also a complete attempt to reformulate disability in modern society.

Changing the way of thinking about the role that people with disabilities can play is a necessary condition if we really want to create a level playing field.

On the positive side, in recent years there is no doubt that great progress has been made towards more inclusive labor markets, but we are only at the beginning.

Despite positive signals, we need to go deeper and wider and bolder.

The Return on Disability Group created by Canadian Rich Donovan, author of Unleash Different, has been a pioneer in presenting the business concept of focusing on disability as an opportunity.

The ILO leads the efforts within the UN system by enabling the Global Business and Disability Network, a global consortium of large companies that are willing to include accessibility and overall disability rights among their top priorities.

GSK, the mammoth pharmaceutical company, has become a pioneer in the field by establishing The Global Disability Confidence Council, which consists of its leading leaders.

“Disability trust describes the company’s best practice that ensures dignified and fair access and inclusion for people with disabilities as valued colleagues, potential colleagues, customers, shareholders and citizens,” explains GSK.

Around the world, there are other promising initiatives such as The Valueable500, a global campaign whose members, all large companies, undertake practical and game-changing initiatives to promote the inclusion of disabilities.

For example, Proctor and Gamble are conducting a global disability audit, while Mahindra & Mahindra, the Indian carmaker, are working to enable a job portal to better target and include young people living with disabilities.

These are just a few examples of what global conglomerates can do to change the status quo.

Still, some approaches can not work and that is why we need a holistic whole of the government to drastically reformulate how decision-making works to fulfill the rights and needs of people with disabilities.

Global business can play an important role here too.

First and foremost, it is imperative that global corporate networks focus on disability issues and work together.

Secondly, although what the most powerful multinational companies do is relevant, is not close enough and our expectations of what multinational companies can do must be higher.

Sure, we need more of them to promise new internal goals, but one-off initiatives must be the springboard for much more holistic action that includes their global supply chains and global sales.

If Proctor and Gamble really want to take disability to the next level, resources must be deployed throughout its extensive operations, including suppliers and contractors.

If Mahindra & Mahindra is serious about disability, it should ensure that all its distributors around the world also embrace the issue.

Together with this “comprehensive” method, resources must be used for advocacy and lobbying. The latter word is often used with a negative connotation, but we really need to lobby governments and decision-makers to get really serious about disability.

The labor market, especially in developing and emerging countries, will become more inclusive only if local businesses and local politicians are forced to commit disabilities.

This means not only available jobs or even possible quotas in the labor market, but a reconsideration of decision-making based on education and social security, as young people with disabilities will only remain in the margins of our economies without access to quality education.

The global private sector can really make a difference here because they have the ability and the ability to listen to and demand action.

The pursuit of a more inclusive labor market does not only mean initiatives to make it more inclusive for people with disabilities.

Therefore, next year’s second edition of the Global Disability Summit really needs to focus on new partnerships with the private sector to integrate disability at the heart of the economies and societies we want to imagine.

Working from above and “retrofitting” the labor market by making it more inclusive should lead to a whole way of society that utilizes skills and untapped potential for young people with disabilities.

Simone Galimberti is one of the founders of ENGAGE, a non-profit NGO in Nepal. He writes about volunteering, social inclusion, youth development and regional integration as an engine to improve people’s lives.

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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service


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