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The Undocumented And Ignored Skill Gap And Unemployment

  (Photo by Gallo Images / Phill Magakoe)

By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus

Every politician and policymaker’s speech has a sentence telling youth and graduates to create their own employment, but little has been documented on the country’s skillset and quality of education.

In their latest Finance and Development Magazine, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) presented the outcome of a comprehensive and timely analysis of global skills gaps.

The researchers indicated that the pandemic uncovered education inequalities, but basic skills gaps are a longstanding challenge.

The researchers found that the global skill deficit is immense, as two-thirds or more of the world’s youth do not reach even basic skill levels.

The researchers concluded that if countries can reach the goal of global universal basic skills, it would raise future world GDP by U$700 trillion over the remainder of the century.

The researchers indicated that the picture that emerges from their analysis is disturbing as two-thirds or more of the world’s youth fail to reach the minimum skill levels required to compete in the international economy.

“These deficits are found worldwide but are most severe in the poorest countries,” wrote the researchers.

Last year, the labour ministry under their Integrated Employment Information System registered 17 002 jobseekers, presenting their skill to several employers so they could be matched with job opportunities; however, only 1 420 were placed.

The picture gives out two conclusions that have been presented in the ministry’s quarterly data that the economy is unable to assimilate the large pool of job seekers. Secondly, there is a skillset deficit as labour supply get to be ignored by labour demand.

The task to enable employment creation falls under the Promotion and Ensurance of Optimum Development and Utilisation of Human Resources in the country, which got N$22,7 million last year. At the same time, the actual expenditure was N$22,5 million (99 per cent).

The IMF researchers define basic skills as necessary to participate productively in modern economies.

The researchers’ proxied relevant economic skills using the international student achievement tests in math and science on a global stage.

They validated their assessment that economic development depends on the skills of each society, which means that high-quality, equitable education is paramount.

However, they explained that the current score of the global skill set would be hard to be optimistic because the skills deficits are large, and recent events have not improved the chances for success.

Studies have shown that basic skills are a key foundation for participating in modern societies and engaging in lifelong learning as is necessary in an ever-changing world.

As a result, studies have been done to understand the determinants of economic growth and have been the subject of considerable research.

The researchers explained in their analysis that although a number of factors enter into short-term growth, in the long run, growth depends primarily on the skills of the people.

The analysis revealed that growth and achievement are closely linked: countries with high-achieving populations grew fast; those whose people lag in achievement hardly grew.

“Moreover, years of schooling have no bearing on growth after accounting for what has actually been learned,” the researchers found.

The researchers found that skill deficits reached 94 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa and 90 per cent in South Asia, but they also hit 70 per cent in the Middle East and North Africa and 6 per cent in Latin America.

Moreover, the skill gaps are most apparent for the third of global youth not attending secondary school fully. 62 per cent of the world’s secondary school students fail to reach basic skills.

The researchers explained that the implication of the current state of achievement is that true world development will require significant changes in the schools available to most current and future students.

The researchers added that it is not enough for all young people to be in school (as emphasised by the SDG for education) because the key issue is the low quality of education in most developing economies.

They suggested that the primary development goal should be to endow all children (universal) in all countries (global) with at least basic skills.

The researchers wrote that global universal basic skills would lead to dramatic increases in world income, and people with greater skills would see improved lifetime incomes.

According to their calculation, as presented in the IMF magazine, the economic value of erasing the learning deficits through actions to bring all youth up to basic skill levels will add to the world GDP, U$700 trillion, or five times the current annual world GDP.

“This calls for secondary schooling for all young people that is good enough to equip them with basic skills,”.

The gain is equivalent to 11 per cent% of the discounted future GDP over the same horizon.

The impact on the concentrated developing regions of the world sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America- would be multiples of their current GDP.

According to the researchers, the key to improvement in global skillset is an unwavering focus on the policy goal: improving student achievement.

“There is no obvious panacea, and effective policies may differ according to context. But the evidence points to the importance of focusing on incentives related to educational outcomes, which is best achieved through the institutional structures of the school system,” the researchers proposed.

Notably, education policies that develop effective accountability systems, promote choice, emphasise teacher quality, and provide direct rewards for good performance offer promise, supported by evidence.

They also added that, most obviously, the neediest countries are flying blind, with no information about their current achievement status on the global scale in terms of skillset as there is no measurement nor data available on their respective countries. Email:


Julia Heita

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