By Rudina Vojvoda
NEW YORK, 3 December 2012 – One in five young people aged 15 to 24 in 123 low- and middle-income countries has been left out of primary education and lacks skills for work. Of these people, the majority are young women.
The 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report Youth and Skills: Putting Education to Work examines how skills-development programmes can be improved to boost young people’s opportunities for decent jobs and better lives.
Podcast moderator Femi Oke discussed the report’s findings and the dynamics around gender and skills development with Director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report Pauline Rose.
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Unemployment, poverty – and inequality
The number of young people in the world has never been higher. In 2010, the population of those between the ages of 15 and 24 reached one billion. Many of these youth are not learning the necessary skills to become functional adults in their societies.
According to Ms. Rose, one in eight young people is without work. “Perhaps of even greater concern is that there are around one in four young people who are working for wages below the poverty line. And we identify that young women are much more likely to be in this situation, and that includes young women who have actually had some education,” she said.
Ms. Rose said that, while programmes such as BRAC in Bangladesh and Camfed in parts of Africa are addressing the needs of young women in the direst circumstances by providing basic skills training and assistance in setting up profitable businesses, these efforts are not enough. “These programmes are very important, but they are reaching too few young women and men who need the support of these programmes. They need to be radically scaled up by governments with the support of aid donors.”
Developing skills, and economic growth
Evidence shows that investing in young people’s skills development leads to economic growth and brings positive transformation. Ms. Rose highlighted two cases: “The Republic of Korea is a striking example of a country that invested in skills development and linked that with the country’s overall macroeconomic policy and strategy to make sure that young people were being provided with the skills that they need for the work place…[I]t went from being a low-income country 30 years ago to now being a high-income country, with a massive increase in economic growth…”
“…We contrast this with Ghana, which started out 30 years ago with a similar level of education and a similar level of economic growth to actually being stagnating both in education and growth.”
The report calls on governments to address the need to give young people who lack basic literacy and numeracy skills a second chance in education. It also calls on donors to allocate their funds to reach those who are most in need.
“We’re also working with young people to make sure that they are also able to put the word out there, to the ministries of education. Because, at the end of the day, it’s experiences of the young people who really matter and who actually can express the need and the importance of these issues far better than we can,” concluded Ms. Rose.