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Practical skills, not knowledge will get you a job – UN report



There is urgent need to invest in skills for youth across the globe, but specifically in Sub-Saharan Africa as most education systems are out of sync with the job market, according to a UNESCO report released on Tuesday, 16th October.


The tenth Education for All Global Monitoring Report, ‘Putting Education to Work’ paints a gloomy employment picture for the youth in nearly all countries surveyed. According to the report, one in eight young person (aged 15-24) is looking for work and the stats are worse in urban cities in low-income countries where the youth make-up more than 50 percent of the population.


“In Sub-Saharan Africa, over 56 million people aged 15 to 24 have not even completed primary school and need alternative pathways to acquire basic skills for employment and prosperity. Around two-thirds of the population in Africa are under 25-years old,” states the ‘Putting Education to work’ report.


“We are witnessing a young generation frustrated by the chronic mismatch between skills and work. The best answer to the economic downturn and youth unemployment is to ensure that young people acquire the basic skills and relevant training they need to enter the world of work with confidence,” said Irina Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO.


There is also a learning crisis; worldwide, 250 million children of primary school age cannot read or write, whether they are in school or not. In Ghana in 2008, over half of school-going children could not read a sentence even though they had spent six years in school.


In richer countries, the report notes, a lack of investment in young people’s skills has contributed to spiraling unemployment statistics. In 2010 in South Africa, almost nine out of ten young people were unemployed, with worse rates for those with less than a secondary education.


The UNESCO report, which gathered information from selected countries in all regions, also collected views from youths in Ethiopia and Egypt.


Almost unanimously, the youth interviewed say their education system does little to prepare students for the job market. Some also said many young people are shut out of expensive, elite institutions that give their students an upper-hand in the labour market while securing a job usually meant ‘you have to know somebody’ influential.


The report estimates that every $1 spent on a person’s skills yields $10-15 in economic growth over that person’s working lifetime.


View full report: http://www.efareport.unesco.org


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