Unemployment poses grave risk to the world

Published November 15th, 2012 - 12:41 GMT
Unemployment poses a grave risk to the global economy and future stability, according to experts at the World Economic Forum in Dubai
Unemployment poses a grave risk to the global economy and future stability, according to experts at the World Economic Forum in Dubai

University drop-outs are creating billion-dollar companies employing millions of young people at a time when the global leaders and academics scratch their heads on how to put 200 million people to work. This creates a mockery of the existing education system worldwide that is more focused on awarding degrees that in most cases, do not provide the necessary skills needed for employment, experts at the Summit of the Global Agenda Councils, said.

In a veiled reference to Bill Gates’ Microsoft, Steve Job’s Apple and Mark Zukerberg’s Facebook, Rajendra Gupta, President and Director of India’s Disease Management of India, said, “Most of what we do at work is not necessarily being guided by our degrees, but by our experiences. Most of our success comes from experience, rather than the classroom. This is a slap on the existing education system.”

Unemployment is a ticking time bomb that could destabilise global growth prospects, so much so, that a Global Agenda Council member suggested that a separate World Employment Forum be created to take the debate further. It was unemployment that triggered the biggest political change in the Arab World nearly two years ago when a young Tunisian man set fire upon himself in protest; and the fire is still burning today in Syria.

Experts stressed the need to re-introduce skill-based education, including vocational training that will help a large number of unemployed people get work.

Valerie Amos, Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OHCA), said, “We have a global economy but not a global community, that’s where the problem lies. We need multilateral dialogue to solve a lot of these interlinked issues.”

Skill-based curriculum

Education, meanwhile, needs to be redefined with skill-based curriculum.

“Mismatch between the education output and the skill-sets needed for employment is a major problem and we need to bring back the vocational and skill-based and need-based education in our curriculum which we abandoned 15 years ago,” she said. “We need clear-cut policy at country level that will encourage entrepreneurship. Private sector is key in boosting employment which is a pressing issue now,” said Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Director-General of Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), said.

The abundance of youth in society is a demographic dividend in Southeast Asian countries when one considers the challenges Western countries are now facing with their aging populations.

In the Arab World, more than 100 million people are jobless. This is a catastrophic ratio for the total population of 350 million in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region. While East Asian countries have done well with their young populations, it remains to be seen how Arab countries would utilise such demographic dividend.

The panelists went on to stress the significance of bringing the teachers up to level. Amos said, “Some of the teachers are not keeping up with the rapid pace of changes. We need to train the trainers”.

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