Report

Basic Secondary-Level Skills in Low-Income Countries – Only one out of 10 young people will be on track to gain them

Young people in developing countries will face the greatest challenges in the years ahead. In the past, many developing economies achieved growth by moving farm workers into factories. In the future, new growth models will need to be found, but these will require higher levels of skills than many economies are currently set to offer. Demographics will exacerbate the challenge. The greatest population increases will occur in countries already lagging furthest behind in education. Africa will be home to a billion young people by 2050.

The growing skills gap will stunt economic growth, with far-reaching social and political repercussions.

Already today, some 40 percent of employers globally are finding it difficult to recruit people with the skills they need. The ability to acquire new skills throughout life, to adapt and to work flexibly will be at a premium, as will technical, social, and critical thinking skills. If ed- ucation in much of the world fails to keep up with these changing demands, there will be major shortages of skilled workers in both developing and developed economies as well as large surpluses of workers with poor skills. The growing skills gap will stunt economic growth around the world, and threatens to have far-reaching economic, social, and political repercussions.

In 2030 in low-income countries, under present trends, only one out of 10 young people will be on track to gain basic secondary-level skills.


And yet despite the overwhelming case for invest- ing in education and the promises made and remade by generations of leaders, in recent years, domestic and global investment has flat-lined, education has dropped down the priority list of world leaders, and too often money invested has led to disappointing results.

Education in many countries is not improving and children are instead falling dangerously behind; 263 million children and young people are out of school, and the number of primary-school aged children not in school is increasing. For those children who are in school, many are not actually learning. In low- and middle-income coun- tries, only half of primary-school aged children and little more than a quarter of secondary-school aged children are learning basic primary- and secondary-level skills.

The Commission projects that if current trends continue, by 2030 just four out of 10 children of school age in low- and middle-income countries will be on track to gain basic secondary-level skills. In low-income coun- tries, only one out of 10 will be on track.

Without action, this learning crisis will significantly slow progress toward reaching the most fundamental of all development goals: ending extreme poverty. On current trends, more than one-quarter of the population in low-income countries could still be living in extreme poverty in 2050. The impact on health will be equally severe. Projections suggest that on current trends, by 2050, the number of lives lost each year because of a failure to provide adequate access to quality education would equal those lost today to HIV/AIDS and malaria, two of the most deadly global diseases.

If inequality in education persists, the implications for stability are also dire. Historical analysis shows that inequality fuels unrest; in countries with twice the levels of educational inequality, the probability of conflict more than doubles. Unrest is likely to be greatest where the gap is widest between the expectations of young people about the opportunities that should be available to them and the realities they face. Population movements could further compound these pressures. Today, the number of people displaced by conflict is at an all-time high and migration from conflict, climate change, and economic strains is set to increase. The number of international migrants, many of whom will have been denied the opportunity to acquire skills, is expected to grow to around 400 million people by 2050. With education critical to resilience and cohesion, the dearth of skills will increase vulnerability to shocks and the risks of instability. In a globalized world, these risks will cross national borders and become global problems requiring global action.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at the Learning Generation | the Education Commission Report

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