For years now, whenever India is discussed on the world stage, it's India's demographic dividend — the potential of India's large youth population — that has taken centre stage. This demographic, comprising people in the 15-25 age group, has been touted as India's biggest opportunity and advantage as it races for economic prominence. But the pandemic has thrown a major spanner in the works... and now, it's that very youth that is distorting the global picture when it comes to a recovery in youth employment.A report by the International Labour Organization says at a global level, less than half the deficit in youth employment created in 2020 will be recovered by the end of 2022. In 2020 itself, global youth employment deficit fell from 8.2 percent to 7.3 percent if India was not included in the calculations.If India's pace of recovery is removed from the mix, the overall recovery is also much faster — with the deficit shrinking to 3.4 percent in 2022 instead of to just 4.5 percent.But even the overall recovery has not been as robust as many would have liked. Before the pandemic, total unemployed youth in the world stood at 67 million and despite recovering, the number is expected to go up to 73 million by the end of 2022.The report says that it is first-time job seekers, fresh graduates and school dropouts who have taken the worst hit from the pandemic — mainly because of curtailed access to the labour market and gaps in skill or experience levels. All this turns the spotlight on the government's youth skilling and employment generation programmes, which now have a wider gap to cover.