Despite young people around the world being more educated than ever before, hundreds of millions of individuals are coming of age and finding themselves unemployed and unemployable, lacking the right skills to take up the jobs available today, and the skills that will be needed in the near future. Technology, socio-economic trends and developments and crises like the COVID-19 pandemic are changing the world of work and the demand for skills at a pace and depth that poses serious challenges to people, business and the society.
Neglecting or ignoring the skills mismatch among youth can result in young people feeling disenfranchised and disillusioned about their prospects in the labor market, fueling social unrest, and stunting the economy. By equipping youth with relevant skills, businesses can empower young people, support their access to employment opportunities and enable them to thrive personally, professionally and as active members of the society.
However, many companies are struggling to hire the talent they require to operate, innovate and grow their business. This mismatch between the skills people acquire on their learning journeys and the skills required to find and succeed in work is widening and affects people across the world. The most visible manifestations of the skills mismatch are unemployment and job insecurity. Prior to COVID-19, about 500 million youth were unemployed, underemployed or working insecure jobs. With now the world in the grip of the pandemic and economies reeling, more than one in six young people is out of work.
A UNICEF report says that more than 57 out of 108 countries have a skills mismatch rate of over 50% in their workforce. This means that over half of current employees in the country have jobs that do not match their educational level, with 72% being under-educated. If this trend continues, 880 million children will not be on track to acquire the most basic skills they need to succeed in the workforce. The lack of basic and secondary skills acquisition at an early age is a key contributor to the skills mismatch, translating into an escalating issue for employees, employers and the society at large.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) describes the discrepancy between the skills that are sought or required by employers and the skills that are possessed by individuals – an organization’s current or prospective workforce as the global skills mismatch. This can either mean that education and training are not producing the skills demanded in the labor market, or that, businesses and employers are not offering jobs that match the skills of individuals. Skills are fundamental to people’s lives, to the success of businesses, to a flourishing economy and to creating a sustainable future.
If this is not addressed soon, the labor markets will be full of people with outdated, over- or under-supplied competencies who either do not find employment at all or struggle to find professional fulfillment. As such companies will be forced to hire people whose skills and experience fall short of what their business needs.