At Davos, the ‘skills gap’ is on the guest list

As the world’s movers and shakers head to Davos, Switzerland, this week for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, the International Labour Organization has issued a gloomy report on employment – just in time to focus minds at Davos even more sharply on the global jobs crisis.

“The jobs crisis continues unabated, with one in three workers worldwide – or an estimated 1.1 billion people – either unemployed or living in poverty,” said Juan Samovia, the ILO’s director-general.

The annual ILO publication highlights the fact that globally, young people are nearly three times as likely as adults to be unemployed. The global youth unemployment rate, at 12.7 per cent, remains a full percentage point above the pre-crisis level. Of those aged 15-24, 74.8 million were unemployed in 2011, an increase of more than 4 million since 2007.

In the forthcoming 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, on youth, skills and work, we will explore a key element of youth unemployment: the mismatch between what education systems teach and the skills that employers want.

That “skills gap” features in at least three sessions this week at Davos: A workshop will look at how “revitalizing education and training” and “mobilizing skills and talent” can boost the economy. An interactive session will consider whether “fostering entrepreneurial education” and “reinventing curricula” can “address supply and demand gaps in dynamic talent markets.” And an “Ideas Lab” will discuss “new creative models for job and growth creation,” starting with “addressing skill shortages and the factors that delay hiring.”

The need to invest in skills – particularly for those who are marginalized – also features in the “Call to Action” issued this week by the Global Issues Group of the WEF, which is comprised of leaders of the world’s multilateral and regional institutions. “Boosting jobs and investing in human capital is the most promising way of tackling inequality,” the group says. “We support the work of the International Labour Organization and others in assisting governments to examine realistic policy options including cost-effective social policies to cushion the most vulnerable from adversity. Investment should target skills and education and thus equip people for the future.”

At the GMR, we’re pleased to see the emphasis at Davos on skills for young people, and we hope the participants come up with concrete proposals for tackling the global jobs crisis. Meanwhile, we’re also keeping an eye on The Guardian’s Global Development website, which is recording a podcast on Wednesday January 25 in which a panel of experts responds to readers’ questions and suggestions about how to tackle the global jobs crisis.



  1. I am an Educationist. I feel connected with the goals of UNESCO. Believe that Human Capital Development resolves marginalisation and creates human dignity all over the world. Cheers

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