Bridging the gap between education and decent work.

An adolescent girl leans against the blackboard, holding her school supplies, in a classroom in Zambia.

How can we harness data from labour markets to shorten the feedback loop between employers and education providers so that young people can develop skills that are in demand?

The Issue

Globally, an estimated 21.8 per cent of young people are neither in employment, education nor training (NEET). Youth are three times as likely as adults to be unemployed.

There is strong evidence of a skills mismatch between young people and employers. A McKinsey global survey found that while 72 per cent of educational providers surveyed believed their graduates were ready for the workforce; only 42 per cent of employers concurred.

It is clear that many young people are not learning the skills they need to get jobs. Conversely, employers struggle to emit clear signals to education providers about the skills they require.

The mismatch threatens to become worse with changing demands for skills spurred by rapidly-advancing technology. According to one recent study, between 75 and 375 million workers (3 to 14 per cent of the global workforce) will need to switch occupational categories by 2030 if automation happens at a medium-to-rapid rate.

Sarah, a young Palestinian woman, talks with a peer during the Youth Challenge in Lebanon.
UNICEF Lebanon

"Life in Lebanon is hard for much of today’s youth. Even when they study hard, there are often no jobs for them, and even when they get a job, they will be fortunate if it relates to their degree.”

- Sarah, 23.

The Opportunity

We've seen a rapid take-off of online job-matching platforms, especially in the developing world. Online job platforms hold unique potential and can address the needs of workers in the informal sector and in small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as in high-skilled jobs.

Digital job-matching platforms generate a vast amount of data on the demand for skills. With the right partnerships, this growing mass of data could be harnessed to train young people preparing to enter the job market in addition to matching their skills with job opportunities.

Shortening and strengthening the feedback loop between education, skills training and jobs, would help educators better respond to market priorities.

Download a PDF book of all Promising Ideas