Young people across the world now fear losing jobs to robots and artificial intelligence, says a new ILO report
The number of young people currently out of employment, education or training is rising, says a new International Labour Organisation (ILO) report published on Monday.
It says young women are more than twice as likely as young men to be affected.
The situation is defined as NEET, which stands for Not in Education, Employment, or Training.
In its "Global Employment Trends for Youth 2020" or GET Youth 2020 report, the ILO discusses how the technological advances of the "Fourth Industrial Revolution" present young people with both opportunities and challenges in the labour market.
The report analyses the impacts of technological change on the nature of jobs available to young people. It focuses on shifts in job characteristics, sectors, and skills.
Young people across the world are worried that new technologies – particularly robotics and artificial intelligence – may take away their jobs, finds the report.
Employed youths aged 15-24 also face a higher risk than older workers of losing their jobs because of automation, and those with vocational training are more vulnerable, the report shows.
"This reflects how the occupation-specific skills imparted by vocational training tend to become obsolete faster than general education skills," the report says, calling for modernised vocational training programmes that meet the evolving demands of the digital economy.
Worldwide, about four in ten young people are in the labour force. But, according to the ILO estimates, youth labour force participation rates in South Asia declined by 13.3 percentage points to reach 31.6 percent last year.
The participation is highest in Northern America, at 52.6 percent, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa, at 48.9 percent and 48.2 percent respectively.
The GET Youth 2020 report shows that since the previous GET Youth report in 2017, an upward trend in NEET status has emerged.
In 2016, there were 259 million young people classified as NEET, which rose to an estimated 267 million in 2019 and is projected to continue rising to 273 million in 2021.
In percentage terms, the trend is also upwards – from 21.7 percent in 2015 to 22.4 percent in 2020. These trends mean that the target set by the international community to cut the NEET rate substantially by 2020 will be missed.
There are currently around 1.3 billion young people globally, of whom 267 million are classified as NEET. Two-thirds, or 181 million, of NEET are young women.
"Too many young people around the world are becoming detached from education and the labour market, which can damage their long-term prospects, as well as ultimately undermine the social and economic development of their countries," said ILO's Director of the Employment Policy Department Sangheon Lee.
"The challenge will be to balance the flexible approach needed to reach these young people with the strong policies and actions necessary to make an impact," Sangheon said, stressing that a "one-size-fits-all" approach will not work.
The report shows that those who complete tertiary education are less likely to find their jobs replaced by automation.
However, they face other issues because the rapid rise in the number of young people with a degree in the labour force has outpaced the demand for graduate labour, pushing down graduate wages.
Not enough jobs are being created for these young people, meaning the potential of millions is not properly tapped, said Sukti Dasgupta, Chief of the Employment and Labour Market Policies branch of the ILO Employment Policy Department.
"We cannot afford to waste this talent or this investment in learning if we are to meet the challenges posed by technology, climate change, inequality and demographics.
"We need integrated policy frameworks and responsive training systems, designed using dialogue between governments, workers and employers."
New technologies are disrupting labour markets across the world by both destroying and creating jobs. So, ILO suggests ensuring that new technologies have a positive impact on youth employment.