SINGAPORE: Citi on Friday (Sep 18) pledged to offer 6,000 jobs over the next three years to young people across Asia Pacific, in response to rising youth unemployment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bank will also offer 60,000 skills training opportunities over the same period to youths across its retail and institutional businesses in the region, it added in a media release.
The announcement comes as Citi Asia Pacific and the Citi Foundation pledged to invest US$35 million in philanthropic investments to improve the employability of youths from low-income and underserved communities in the region by 2023.
“This initiative is designed to equip young people with the skills and confidence to improve their employment and entrepreneurship opportunities,” said the bank.
READ: Commentary: More bold measures needed to protect against the job losses heading Singapore’s way
Citi’s Asia Pacific CEO Peter Babej warned that communities in Asia Pacific face a potential “youth unemployment crisis” due to the impact of COVID-19.
“Young people are key to Asia Pacific’s COVID-19 recovery and this investment will help them advance their economic opportunities and support inclusive growth in the region,” said Mr Babej in the release.
READ: Challenging job-hunting landscape as recruitment agencies see fewer vacancies and more applications
Asia Pacific is home to more than half of the world’s youth population, with 700 million people aged 15 to 24 years, according to the International Labor Organization.
The demographic group represents 20 per cent of workers in the region. At the same time, however, they also account for half of the region’s unemployed.
“The pandemic and resulting economic crisis has further challenged this issue,” said Citi.
“Projections through the end of 2020 in 13 countries show sizable jumps, with youth unemployment rates doubling the 2019 rate in some cases,” it added.
READ: Retrenchments in Singapore spike in first half of the year, surpassing SARS peak
The bank’s hiring commitment comes amid rising retrenchment and unemployment in Singapore and several countries in the region, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to batter economies.
In Singapore, retrenchments have spiked along with the unemployment rate. In June, 89,700 residents were unemployed, compared with 76,200 in March. Retrenchments rose sharply to 11,350 in the first half of the year, surpassing the 10,120 recorded during the SARS period.
Earlier this month, Singapore Airlines Group announced it needed to cut around 4,300 positions across its three airlines. Several other companies have also recently announced jobs cuts, including Millennium Hotels and Resorts, ground handling company dnata and Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.
In the region, around 6.4 million Indonesians have also lost their jobs due to the impact of COVID-19, while Vietnam estimated that about 31 million of its workers have been affected by the pandemic.
BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments
Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram