Education systems barely teach critical soft, life, entrepreneurial skills!
Here’s a quick snapshot: Almost 290 million young people (1/4 of the planet’s youth) are neither working nor studying; half of the world’s population (approximately 3 billion) is under 25 years of age; 42 million new jobs need to be created annually to match the growing number of entrants into the labour market; and in 2014, 36 per cent of employers globally reported facing difficulties in finding talent (the highest percentage in seven years).
|Youth and unemployment
> 290 million youth neither working nor studying
> 3 billion of world’s population aged under 25 years of age
> 42 million new jobs need to be created annually to match the growing number of entrants into the labour market
> 36% employers globally reported facing difficulties in finding talent in 2014
How does all of this depressing news about the future facing our youth impact all the clever little humans personally known to us?
One has to ask why we have not seen a drastic overhaul of all global education systems. Occasionally, we read about countries such as Finland (always at the top of educational rankings) which recently embarked on a radical education reform programme, scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favour of “teaching by topic”. Subject-specific lessons such as an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon will be phased out. Instead, “phenomenon” teaching or teaching by topic will take its place. This means a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing and communication skills.
However, in most part, the education systems available to our children barely teach critical soft, life, leadership and entrepreneurial skills. And the reality ahead for our children is one where creativity, innovation, critical thinking, an entrepreneurial mindset etc. are not side dishes but main courses in their lives.
What we can do
Here are some really simple techniques we can start at home: Teach how to recognise opportunities and take action on them. Encourage speaking up when we see problems and foster a habit of brainstorming solutions and idea generation.
Ensure a solid understanding on financial literacy. Design a four part box/jar for saving, spending, giving and investing. Encourage earning money, investing etc. Hone personal marketing skills. Create opportunities for observing communication of others, public speaking and highlighting personal super powers.
A World Economic Forum (WEF) report titled ‘Disrupting Unemployment’ issued in 2015 specifically called for companies to re-invent their role in education in the following three critical areas: (1) Employment skills — businesses need to provide input in the education and training systems to match the needs of the labour market both within the traditional schooling as well as lifelong learning during employment; (2) Entrepreneurship — developing entrepreneurship and self-employment is key since they supply jobs and economic growth. Further, given the rapidly changing business models and the displacement of many traditional jobs, the ability to recognise and act upon new opportunities is fundamental. (3) Talent to markets — the hole between education and work is getting bigger. Coupled with demographic changes, migration and urbanisation, companies need to forecast and create market-signalling mechanisms to match current and future demand and supply of talent.
Cases in point
There are some companies that are clearly front runners concerned about our youth. Since 2012, the Hilton Hotel Group with more than 4,300 hotels in 94 countries and territories has committed to employ one million young people around the world by 2019 through a series of programmes.
In some instances, actual cities have stepped up to ensure youth employment is on their local agenda. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of the City of Baltimore — through her Youthworks programme (five-week summer program for 14- to- 21-year olds) — continuously urges employers to help close a funding gap and pledge to hire at least one employee through the programme.
And we cannot discount the efforts here in Dubai of Kidzania and Emirates Nationals Development Programme (ENDP). Kidzania provides children role-play by mimicking jobs done by adults in real life, while ENDP plans to lower the number of job-seekers in Dubai to less than 1 per cent by 2021.
They have already made lots of progress, including the reduction of the unemployment rate in Dubai from 10.7 per cent in 2005 to 2.6 per cent in 2014.
Walter Elias Disney is right when he said, “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.” It is up to us, the adults, to ensure we do not underdevelop this resource to meet tomorrow’s challenges.
This piece originally appears in the KHALEEJ TIMES. The author is the founder of the Growing Leaders Foundation.