A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is reassuring in one respect – the Unites States is not alone in its lack of skilled workers for key jobs. In general though, the report highlights the difficulties developing countries face in trying to reform their 19th century educational systems to match 21st century needs given tight budgets an political derisiveness.
Despite today’s high unemployment rate, a lack of skilled workers means many vacancies remain unfilled. Even at the height of the crisis, more than 40% of employers in Australia, Japan, Mexico and The United States said they couldn’t find people with the right skills.
Today, one in five young people leave school in OECD countries without completing upper secondary education. And in many countries, a third of adults lack the minimum core skills needed to engage in further learning and get a good job.
Among its recommendations are that countries should:
- improve the quality of learning outcomes by putting the premium on skills-oriented learning instead of qualifications-focused education upfront;
- involve employers and trade unions more closely in designing and delivering education and training programmes;
- encourage adults to invest in further learning, especially in small and medium-sized firms. A levy on firms to increase their contribution to staff training that targets particular sectors or regions should be considered;
- facilitate the internal and cross-border mobility of skilled workers;
- calibrate tax and benefit systems to make work pay;
- help employers make more effective use of their employee’s skills;
- help local economies to move up the value-added chain, foster entrepreneurship and stimulate the creation of more high-skilled jobs.