By 2030, More than Half of South Asian Youth Will Lack Employable Skills: UNICEF
Nearly 100,000 young people – equal to a large sports stadium — in South Asia enter the labor market every day, making it the world’s largest youth labor force. However, in the coming decade, more than half of them will lack the education and skills required for employment, predicts a report by the UNICEF.
One of the major reasons, states the report, is an outdated education system that equips students with neither the skills required for professional jobs nor the optimal training to fill vocational jobs that the labor market will demand.
These skills include those related to the use of technology, digitization, and automation that most professions now rely on and require their staff to know at least the basics of these.
The report added that this finding is important especially for India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh because, with almost half of its population below the age of 24, it will make up a large part of the labor force until 2040, which if skilled in the right manner will have the potential to drive productive economies.
The report also included a survey that included responses from 32,000 people under 24 years of age which found that the other major reasons that could prevent them from working include unfair and discriminatory hiring practices and lack of familial financial support to stay in school.
“This is a crisis,” said Justin Van Fleet, executive director of the GBC – Education in a press release. “Addressing the youth skills gap in South Asia requires government investments, commitments from the business community, contributions from civil society, and the perspective of young people to best equip the next generation to successfully enter the rapidly changing job market.”
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore added, “South Asia is at a critical juncture, with a limited window during which it can reap significant demographic dividends from its talented and capable youth. Get it right, and millions could be lifted out of poverty. Fail to do so, and economic growth will falter, youth despair will rise, and further talent will be lost to other regions.”
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As India currently stares at a bleak economy and high rate of unemployment — both of which could get worse if the country’s youth are unable to contribute due to a lack of skills. Recently, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani announced a national initiative titled YuWaah that will aim to engage more than 300 million youngsters in education, skill training, or employment through the next decade. It also plans to promote formal and informal education experiences that build skills young people need and to connect young people with work opportunities.
Whether the project is successful or not, it is the kind of effort Fore and others are calling for. “The world of work is changing fast. If governments invest in better and modern education, and businesses create better opportunities for young people to enter the job market, South Asia can set an example for the world. But this can only be done if we act smart, and act together.”