Global Goals Week 2021: SDG 8

“Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”

Economic growth that is both sustainable and inclusive can accelerate progress, provide decent employment to everyone, and increase the standard of living. COVID-19 has disrupted billions of lives and placed the world economy at risk. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts a global recession as severe as or worse than the one experienced in 2009. The International Labor Organization estimated that over half of the global workforce is at threat of failing their jobs as job losses intensify. The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in a catastrophic recession with record levels of impoverishment and unemployment, resulting in an enormous human disaster that is overwhelmingly impacting the poor.

What can we do to fix these issues?

1. Offering the best opportunity for youth to transition to a decent job requires investing in the highest quality education and training, providing youth with skills that complement workforce market demands, providing young generation with access to the social safety and essential services regardless of contract type, and leveling the playing field so that all aspiring youth can acquire sustainable livelihood.

2. Governments may work towards creating dynamic, sustainable, innovative, and people-centered industries by supporting youth employment, women’s economic empowerment, and decent work for all.

3. Implementing sufficient health and safety measures and creating supportive work conditions are important to worker protection, particularly for health professionals and those providing essential services.

COVID-19 has led to massive job losses, particularly among youth and women

By 2020, the global rate of unemployment had risen to 6.5 percent, an increase of 1.1 percentage points from the previous year. The global unemployment rate grew by 33 million, reaching 220 million. Another 81 million people in the world pulled out of the labor force permanently. The rate of unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Europe and Northern America, increased by at least two percent.

Youth and women were extremely impacted, with employment losses of 8.7% and 5.0 %, respectively, in 2020, compared to 3.7 percent for adults and 3.9 percent for men. Prior to the pandemic, youth unemployment was already three times that of adults. During the recession, women were more likely than men to leave the labor market to take care of children. This exacerbated long-standing gender disparities in labor-force participation rates.

The pandemic has led to an increase in youth who are not employed, in school or in training

In 2019, 22.3% of the world’s youth were not enrolled, employment, or training (NEET), a proportion that has not decreased in over a decade. Furthermore, quarterly stats indicate that the NEET rate increased from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2020 in 42 of the 49 countries having data. This is hardly unexpected given that young employees were hit more than older workers by job losses in 2020. Both technical and vocational education, as well as on-the-job training, were severely disrupted, leading many students to drop out.

The worst year on record for international tourism disproportionately affected small island developing States

The massive drop in tourism impacts all regions, threatening millions of livelihoods and companies and jeopardizing progress toward the SDGs. The damage is more severe in small island developing states (SIDS), which rely more on tourism for income and jobs than other countries. Inbound tourist expenditure accounts for 25% of GDP on average among those States having data, compared to 5% among non-SIDS with data.

Many countries across the globe have been able to mitigate the effects of the crisis by expanding their local tourism sectors. However, because SIDS rely primarily on foreign tourists and have relatively limited local markets, this is not a viable option in the short term. International tourism is not likely to return to 2019 levels for at least four years, putting the poorest archipelago states at a massive disadvantage of SDG achievement.

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