Another strong argument for the importance of developing young people’s skills –the subject of the forthcoming 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report – comes from a new review by the European Commission, which warns that the recession has made it even more urgent to improve skills across the board.
Like the OECD report on wage inequality that we noted earlier this month, the first annual review of Employment and Social Developments in Europe argues that skills are the key not only to the economic recovery but also to individuals’ prospects – especially those of the marginalized, who will be the special focus of the 2012 Global Monitoring Report.
“Understanding the skills requirements of new jobs is critical for improving the employability of the European labour force and identifying mismatches in the labour markets, as well as for lifting the low-skilled out of poverty,” according to the review.
Even before the economic crisis, the review says, jobs were becoming “concentrated in relatively high and low pay levels.” The recession has had the effect of intensifying this divide by destroying medium-paid jobs, while new jobs are increasingly demanding higher educational and skills qualifications, “thus compromising the chances of re-employment and access to well-paid jobs for lower-skilled people who lost their jobs during the recession.”
“Young people remain the hardest hit by the crisis and its aftermath,” the review adds.
A key solution, the review says, is “up- and re-skilling of the workforce at all levels.” Low-skilled jobs, the review predicts, “will continue to exist but they will require better literacy, numeracy and other basic skills.”
The 2012 GMR will go highlight how the mismatch between education systems and labour markets affects young people right across the world, including in countries in the Arab world and sub-Saharan Africa that have experienced political and economic upheavals in recent times.
Educators and employers tackle Europe’s science problem
Developing the skills that employers need requires collaboration between employers and skills providers, a process that we will explore in the 2012 GMR. A post on the Wall Street Journal’s Brussels blog, which draws attention to the EU report, also notes one such partnership – a bid to meet Europe’s growing shortage of science graduates.
InGenious, a new European coordinating body for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, was launched on December 14 by European business leaders and education policy makers worried that a lack of scientists is threatening Europe’s economic recovery.
According to a report by the European Roundtable of Industrialists, which founded InGenious along with European SchoolNet, Asian countries are currently training twice as many scientists as European member states, and three times as many engineers.
InGenious brings together the European Commission, the 30 Ministries of Education involved in European Schoolnet, and major international companies including Volvo, Shell, Philips, BASF, Nokia, Microsoft and Intel.