Published: 05th September 2020
Are our young ready to cope with job losses and unemployment?
Because India’s employment scenario looks dismal, and this is the cold hard fact of today, are the youth prepared to handle the pressure? John Monteiro wonders out loud. What are your thoughts?
“Sooner or later, the U.S. will face mounting job losses due to advances in automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics.”
– Oren Etzioni (b1964), an American professor of Computer Science
Oren’s prediction was on the basis of the relentless advance of new technologies in recent years and decades, particularly in the United States. But a new unexpected factor has been super-imposed on this: COVID-19. It’s relentless destructive march and unpredictable end has shaken the world with disease and death. It has resulted in widespread job losses and shrinking of new job openings for potential job-seekers. This should be worrisome for the young readers of EdEx. One cannot wish it away. It is in this context that an excerpt from a joint report published by Manila-based Asian Development Bank and International Labour Organisation, a UN agency based in Geneva in mid-August 2020 is excerpted here.
The report has predicted a grim picture of India’s employment scenario and has estimated that the youth unemployment rate is likely to be at 32.5 per cent in case the spread of the virus is contained within six months of the start of the rigorous containment measures. Further, the report titled ‘Tackling the COVID-19 Youth Employment Crisis in Asia and the Pacific’ has said that the youth unemployment rate would have stood at 29.5 per cent in case containment was achieved in three months. The rate in 2019 stood at 23.3 per cent.
Interestingly, the survey found that youth are expected to lose employment at a faster rate than adults. “The fall in youth employment will be affected by the last-in-first-out process, in which young workers are likely to lose work at a faster rate than adults”. The combination of increased automation predicted in the quote with which we started applies, though to a lesser extent, to India and the ongoing pandemic present a grim picture for our youth. How they will cope with the prospect would be interesting to read from the respondents in this column. One message to conclude is: Hope lives eternal in the human breast. Also, fore-warned is fore-armed. Knowing the facts in advance could work as a shock-absorber.