Category Archives: Education and Job readiness

Skills For Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Developing Asia-Pacific : Call to Action by Youth

In the recent ADB International Skills Development Forum 2013, a strong youth contingent was invited for the first time to join deliberations. Over 40 youth with diverse backgrounds came from 10 countries. They enriched discussions by sharing their concerns and viewpoints on skills and jobs and what is required to ensure good jobs. When we challenged them to come up with what they could themselves undertake, the energetic and creative group of youth came up with the following. Well done!                             Shanti Jagannathan

We, the youth participants of the 3rd International Skills Development Forum gathered on 10th-12th December 2013 in Manila, Philippines,

strongly believe that the time has come for the international community to work together to make the world of decent work accessible to all, where every young person can avail equal opportunities.

Youth face clear and distinct issues that impede them from making informed career choices, reaching their full potential, and living a happy and successful life. In the Asia-Pacific region, 6 out of 10 young people have no jobs, are not in school, or are engaged in irregular employment. We, the youth of the region, struggle in an environment that has fostered skills mismatch, urban and rural divide, weak youth entrepreneurship, and unsecure jobs in both the formal and informal sector. If this continues, current and future generations will be confined to a poorer quality of life and remembered as the lost generation

We recognize the impact ICT has on revolutionizing opportunities for youth.

To reverse the current trends, youth must be educated, empowered, and engaged. We commit ourselves to:

  1. Develop and encourage extra-curricular activities and youth-inspired opportunities that enable youth to practice life skills and leadership;
  2. Participate and execute peer-to-peer mentorships for personal growth and career guidance;
  3. Organize youth-friendly job fairs, especially on green and ICT-based jobs;
  4. Patronize and promote youth-led enterprises;
  5. Organize and execute a youth-led dialogue that brings together youth, government and private sector to talk about issues on employment;
  6. Advocate and serve as a resource to the international institutions and labor ministries on the need for a public information dissemination campaign about decent work;

In addition to the specific actionable items that the youth will undertake, we call upon the following stakeholders to seriously consider the following recommendations:

  • We encourage greater and more meaningful collaboration between youth, relevant government ministries, and private sector.
  • We encourage greater collaboration between private sector and education institutions in curriculum-design and career-guidance.
  • We encourage greater emphasis on entrepreneurship in all levels of formal and non-formal education, and making youth-friendly financial resources accessible.
  • We encourage incentives for businesses that promote decent work opportunities for youth.
  • We urge the private sector to stand up and be the face of change in making digital literacy accessible to rural youth.
  • We encourage government and private agencies to include youth advisors in programs and policies that impact youth.

We applaud the Asian Development Bank and Plan International for their continued commitment to inclusive dialogue. We call upon the international community to intensify its commitment to deliver its promise of decent work and equitable opportunities for youth in the Asia-Pacific region.

Youth and Skills Development: 12 Things to Know

This fact sheet is prepared in the lead up to the ADB International Skills Development Forum. Shanti Jagannathan and Benjamin Vergel de Dios

1.         Young people have power to make or break their country’s economy. About 2 million youths are now entering the Bangladesh job market annually but nearly 90% of them end up in poorly paid informal work. Low skills of the workforce is undermining productivity and weighing on attempts to diversify the economy. Source: ADB News: $500 Million Loan Targets Skills-driven Secondary Education for Bangladesh

2.         Investing in girls brings good socio-economic returns. The United Nations estimates that the region loses more than $40 billion per year as a result of gender gaps in education and women’s limited access to employment opportunities.Source: ADB News: Skill Training for Women and Girls the Focus of ADB Seminar

3.         Young people are at the center of India’s inclusive growth strategies. The low employability of India’s work force is affecting the competitiveness of its economy. Of India’s total youth population, 57% suffer from some degree of unemployability.

Source: ADB Project Document: Supporting Human Capital Development in Meghalaya

4.         Youth running out of reasons to smile. Global adult unemployment rate is at 4.5% but global youth unemployment is three times more (12.6%). Youth say they can’t find jobs because they do not have “experience, skills, contacts, awareness of job availability and means to travel to find work”.

Source: GSMA and Alcatel-Lucent Study on Mobile Services for Youth Employment

5.         TVET institutions need new learning paradigms. Time to explore the 70-20-10 formula of learning – 70% on-the-job development and real life experiences, 20 % through coaching and self improvement and 10% through structured instructor-led trainings and e-Learning.

Source: ADB-Springer Book on Skills Development for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Developing Asia-Pacific

6.         Asia-Pacific should not ignore Not in Education, Employment or Training-NEET. Globally, there are 357.7 million youth not in education, employment of training, with 62% in South Asia (101 million) and East Asia and Pacific (119.4 million).

Source: World Economic Forum

7.         You are in trouble if you are a girl, poor and living in a rural area.  Location, gender and wealth disparities affect acquisition of ‘foundation skills’.  Almost all boys and girls from rick households in the Philippines acquire foundation skills but only 56% girls and 35% boys from poor backgrounds do. In Pakistan, almost 50% of rural females will not get any education at all.

Source: EFA Global Monitoring Report 2012 – Youth and Skills: Putting Education to Work

8.         Underemployment is as serious as unemployment. In 2010, 536 million working youth in the developing world were underemployed – more than half of them live in South Asia (152 million) and East Asia and the Pacific (150 million). As many as 200 million working youth earn less than US$ 2 a day.

Source: World Economic Forum

9.         Employers say youth are not prepared for the world of work: youth agree but their educators and trainers do not.  Only 42% employers and 45% youth surveyed said youth were not prepared for the world of work, whereas an overwhelming 72% of education and training providers believed they are.

Source:  McKinsey and Co. Education to Employment: Designing System that Works

10.       Every young person deserves a second chance in education. UNESCO’s EFA Global Monitoring Report 2012 reveals around 200 million young people need a second chance to acquire the basic literacy and numeracy skills, which are essential to learning further skills for work. Some 91 million of them live in South and West Asia.

Source: EFA Global Monitoring Report 2012 – Youth and Skills: Putting Education to Work

11.       Youth entrepreneurship can remedy youth unemployment. OECD says it can be part of the solution. 40% of youth aged 15-24 years and say self-employment is feasible. More males (34%) than females (24%) believe they can make themselves self-employed.

Source: OECD Policy Brief

12.       Youth demand hands-on training and do not get enough. Fifty-eight percent of surveyed youth agreed that “practical, hands-on learning is an effective approach to training”. However, only 24% of academic graduates and 37% vocational graduates said they get this in their respective institutions.

Source: McKinsey and Co. Education to Employment: Designing System that Works

Winners announced in Plan-Asian Development Bank youth reporter contest

We are pleased to announce the selection of 9 brilliant youths from across the region in Asia who are winners of a Youth Reporters’ Initiative contest we held by Plan International and the Asian Development Bank.

Young people from 9 countries in Asia were invited to showcase their talent and creativity under the theme of “Skills Development and Employment for the iGen”.  The Youth were asked to respond in a creative and original way to the question of what skills and programmes young people need to succeed in finding and keeping a job in the modern world.

They could select any medium to present their stories including an article, a life story, audio or video material, an interview or a drawing. The key was that the submission demonstrated the realities of what it’s like being a young person and the challenges and opportunities of gaining the skills needed for getting a job. We’ll be showcasing the winning entries soon.

Next stop for the winners? The ADB International Skills Development Forum in Manila from 9-12 December 2013. The fantastic 9 will join a number of other youths from the Philippines and get a chance to take part in a dialogue with key regional players.

Congrats to Md S (Bangladesh), Khin S (Cambodia), Pu R (China), Amit K (India), Siti W (Indonesia), Shahid I (Pakistan), W.M.A. D (Sri Lanka), Chakrapan C (Thailand), Ngoc (Vietnam).

Adapted from http://plan-international.org/where-we-work/asia/news/winners-announced-in-plan-adb-youth-reporter-contest

YOUTH SKILLS AND JOBS: Contribution of Apprenticeships

This is the second of a five-part article series by Dr David Smawfield, an international expert on technical and vocational education and training, exploring different dimensions of youth skills development for jobs and employability. This series leads to a discourse at the ADB International Skills Development Forum in Manila from 10-12 December 2013. Edited, Shanti Jagannathan, ADB. 

The main strengths of apprenticeships in skills development are that they reinforce the demand side in skills utilization by employers on the one hand and enable apprentices to apply skills learned in the workplace immediately without much time and transmission loss. However, in developing economies formal apprenticeships through formal technical and vocational education and training (TVET) are available only for a small minority of young people.

The majority of youth in developing countries work in the informal economy and it is thus informal apprenticeships that provide the largest and in some cases only advancement opportunity for young people. The informal apprenticeship system is inherently weaker in terms of quality and consistency of approach and does not provide much scope for monitoring and regulation compared to its formal counterpart. Therefore, there is much to be done to strengthen the apprenticeships regime for informal sector occupations. An ILO Report on The Youth Unemployment Crisis has prioritised the following for system improvement:

  • complement learning at the workplace with      more structured institutional learning;
  • upgrade the skills of master crafts      persons, e.g. by introducing modern technology and upgrading pedagogical      skills;
  • involve business associations and labour      organizations, especially those representing the informal economy;
  • introduce standardized contracts and      certification;
  • include literacy/numeracy training and      livelihoods skills; and
  • strengthen community involvement to open      more occupations for young women.

The ILO publication Upgrading Informal Apprenticeship: A Resource Guide for Africa advocates efforts to build bridges between informal and formal apprenticeship modalities. Examples of strategies identified for consideration (referenced to Africa, but arguably with wider relevance) include: promoting inclusion of informal apprenticeship in national training systems; devising skills development strategies inclusive of informal apprenticeship; improving recognition by involving other reliable institutions; by providing finance; and through introducing skills assessment of apprentices. The last mentioned has particular potential, particularly where competency based approaches are used. Apprentices can submit themselves for testing at formal testing centres. Provided competences can be demonstrated, it should not matter where or how these were attained: formally or informally. This is an approach adopted on a pilot basis by the EC funded ‘Labour Market Information Project’ in Vietnam. Pilot centres have been set up in formal training institutions where anyone can go for testing of their competences in welding.

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, developed economies found that apprenticeships can be a powerful way to tackle youth unemployment and such programs have been given new impetus and emphasis.  A 2013 international study on good practice principles in apprenticeship systems compared and contrasted apprenticeship systems in 11 countries and has suggested that governments may consider  the promotion of the ‘brand’ of apprenticeship, particularly in countries where the status of apprenticeships is low. Measures such as promotion of apprenticeships as a valued school-leaving pathway, awareness building of secondary school and careers staff about apprenticeships, making apprenticeships more attractive through providing pathways to higher level qualifications, and encouragement to recognize apprentice qualifications for recruitment to jobs and/or reward with higher pay can contribute positively.

Women, Vocational Education and Technical Jobs, Shanti Jagannathan

For those of us working in the education sector, gender equality is a critical development outcome we want to see.  Several years of advocacy has seen gender parity being achieved in elementary and even secondary school enrolments. However, from thereon, things do not look so rosy in terms of large gender gaps. At a recent workshop, I argued that gender equality in secondary education is critical to gender equality in tertiary education, labor markets and in societies. Typically, in most developing countries, despite substantial progress in getting girls into school, there is still a huge distance to be covered in ensuring that girls complete the full secondary cycle. According to the Global Partnership for Education, one extra year of secondary raises women’s earnings by 15-25%; 1% increase of girls’ secondary education increases per capita GDP by 0.3%.  PLAN International has estimated that some countries lose more than $ 1 billion a year by failing to educate girls to the same extent as boys.  Gender equality in secondary education is a crucial base for greater economic empowerment, more jobs, higher productivity as well as stronger, better and fairer growth. Gender equality at secondary stage also has an array of social returns – delay in marriage, better health, more investments in the education and health of children and promotion of rights of women and girls.

Inequalities and vulnerabilities that women face in the labor market can be traced back to their education and skills development. Women do not do as well as men in terms of access to technical and vocational education and training. Even when they do, their choice of disciplines is vastly different from that of men.  While men may go for mechanical, welding, printing, automotive, electronics, computers and so on, women go for training in culinary, housekeeping, front office, food and beverage and similar occupations.  This comes about from a complex web of social, cultural and economic factors. There are well-entrenched cultural expectations of the roles women ought to play and sex-stereotyping of occupations that lead to such differences. But it is by breaking through such barriers can we ensure equal opportunities to women in the labor market. Women are often concentrated in unskilled and semi-skilled and low-paying occupations. In South Asia, as per ILO, 84% of women are in vulnerable employment.

Evidence on average appears to indicate that boys perform better than girls in maths while girls perform better in reading.  This phenomenon is true even in OECD countries.  A recent study by McKinsey points out the US scores last of 9 countries surveyed where universities are most likely to attract high-flying women to the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Just 4 percent of US women identified as high performers study STEM subjects, compared to 57% in India, 37% in Morocco and 25% in Turkey. We need to help girls and parents overcome cultural and social barriers that contribute to gender stereotyping in occupations. This requires interventions to adjust curricula and teaching materials to portray women through powerful role models. Someone at the workshop asked me whether it is a good thing to lay emphasis on recruiting female teachers.  I believe it is, as there is evidence of its positive influence on girls completing secondary schooling.

But there is more to female employment in male dominated occupations than just school education. There is need for increasing access to technical training for women in high growth and modern economy occupations. A recent paper in the International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology points out women could be trapped in dead-end, low paying and low-skills jobs in what would be deemed an advanced occupation such as ICT. Similarly, even in low-end occupations such as construction work, women could use skills development to improve their position in the workplace.  I heard the inspirational story of the Karmika School for Construction Workers established by the well-known Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).  After training in Karmika school, women reported greater confidence in going to work, better negotiation with contractors and less verbal and sexual abuse (I did not hear better wages though!).  Even construction giants such as Larsen and Toubro found it difficult to create good working conditions for women in their sites with washrooms, let alone better wages. Yet millions of women continue to be employed in the construction industry as a whole. There can be out-of-the-box approaches. For instance, a residential school for girls in a remote tribal district in India found that training girls in competitive sports had an unexpected educational outcome – of making them want to finish middle school and enroll for secondary school. This was a result of a great boost in self-confidence that playing competitive sports instilled in the girls!

However, we need to think of skills ++ if gender bias is to be tackled – advocacy at the work place, social protection, and career counselling.

Watch this ADB video on girls and technical and vocational education and training.

Higher Education Rankings: Rural is off the rankings radar, Mukti Misra

THE Mukti photo
Amid all the attention that university rankings attract, their shortcomings are often overlooked. Not only are league tables of institutions based on indicators that take no account of the social and public-good aspects of education, they also perpetuate a global bias. Consider the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Its key assessments look at an institution’s teaching, international outlook, industry income, research output and volume of citations. Such parameters skew the rankings towards universities in the most developed countries.

The fundamental job of a university is teaching and learning. But must every institution focus on research to enhance its teaching and learning experience? Would it not be useful and important for at least some universities to produce “job-ready individuals” rather than “think-ready individuals”, or to produce some combination of “action leaders” and “thought leaders”?

India is a country of countries: each state is linguistically and culturally distinct. National institutions such as the University of Delhi and the Indian Institutes of Technology have students from almost all states, which means that their multiculturalism is on a par with that of leading global universities. Nevertheless, Indian institutions score negligible points on the international outlook parameter.

Rankings also fail to capture the high-impact and socially relevant work that is being done in India’s regional and community-oriented institutions to offer inclusive education and bridge tremendous social gaps by bringing together students from vastly different communities who otherwise could not afford higher education. At top-ranked universities, the cohort is much more homogeneous: students are typically all from the global upper strata.

Centurion University of Technology and Management, in the eastern state of Odisha (formerly Orissa), is an example of this wider university project. Here, school dropouts, vocational trainees, graduate engineers and PhD students all live and dine together; they use the same labs and play on the same sports teams. By fostering a truly inclusive experience, Centurion allows education to be the public good it should be.

Rankings distort public perceptions of the services delivered by a university. Thus many big companies donate to top-ranked universities to signal their own elite nature instead of helping institutions that serve a local community or region.

Despite its lack of financial support or rankings success, Centurion is determined to generate economic value for its region. Through relevant, appropriate education, employability training and industry ties, it strives each year to help 15,000 young people from marginalised communities into work, with a goal of 100,000 by 2022. Centurion has also created many social entrepreneurship initiatives. One, Gram Tarang Inclusive Development Services, has brought banking and financial services to 4 million of some of the most remote households in rural India.

In reflecting on one component of rankings success – citations – it strikes me that researchers worldwide should be citing Centurion’s work, rather than Centurion’s scholars citing other researchers. Alas, this does not happen; rankings continue to neglect real-world impact.

As a young institution, we are still redefining our community impact through education and refining how to maximise it. All we can hope is that the model for ranking higher education institutions continues to evolve with a similar sense of integrity. Institutions making a real difference to the problems of remote and rural regions must be acknowledged, even if they are not ranked. The parties involved in university rankings have organisational, social and individual responsibility for showcasing such invisible, unsung and voiceless institutes.

Author:
Mukti Mishra is president of Centurion University of Technology and Management, India.
Originally published at:
http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/comment/opinion/rural-is-off-the-rankings-radar/2006779.article