• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Bridging the skills gap


One of the biggest problems the world will face in 2013 is the prolonged and seemingly intractable crisis of youth unemployment, according to experts. They forecast that there will be a global shortfall of 85 million high- and middle-skill workers for the labour market by 2020, without a remedy for the mismatch of demand and supply.

The spill-over effects of the crisis is already seen in parts of the Middle East and North Africa, where youth unemployment remains stuck at around 25 percent. Also, in Spain and South Africa about half of young would-be workers are unemployed. Nigeria is no different with the unemployment being put at 23. 9 percent, and globally around 75 million people aged 15 to 24 are jobless, and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) expects this dismaying unemployment rate of almost 13 percent to rise.

In a recent McKinsey survey of more than 4500 young people, 2700 employers and 900 education providers across America, Brazil, Britain, Germany, India, Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, some 40 percent of employers reported that they struggle to fill entry-level jobs because the candidates have inadequate skills.

Analysts say among the myriad factors contributing to this market failure, one stands out: a profound disconnect between the perceptions variously held by employers, education-providers and the young themselves. The heart of the matter is helping the young learn relevant skills more effectively, and that requires greater co-operation and communication between companies, governments and education providers, Dominic Barton, managing director, Mckinsey & Company, was quoted as saying in The World in 2013 report by The Economist.

He says among several promising approaches, one favoured by students is the ‘‘practicum:” a practical course involving either hands-on learning in the classroom or training on the job. ‘‘Sadly, less than a quarter of education providers use such methods, yet they should be the 21st Century equivalent of the 20th Century apprenticeship, a way for people to learn and continuously update their skills,” he says.

According to him, if such training is underpinned by a certification system, employees (and employers) will know that skills are transferable across companies and industries.

‘‘The world needs to rethink education, we need to rethink participation from the key stakeholders: high education providers, government and industry,’’ Ayodeji Adewunmi, human resource specialist and co-founder, Jobberman, wrote in response to BusinessDay.

According to him, the biggest gap that needs to be filled is institutional gap of engaging all stakeholders to produce graduates with market-oriented skills for public and private sectors, as ‘‘there is never a one-size-fits-all, it’s multidimensional and multidisciplinary.’’