Higher Ed the Key to ‘Non-Vulnerable’ Jobs, Says UN

Azita Berar Awad

According to a new study from the United Nations, higher education is the key to finding a decent, "non-vulnerable" job for a large number of youth in developing countries around the world.

Conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the study looked at 28 different countries, showing how having a higher education level "serves as a fairly dependable guarantee" to gaining a good job.

"The report confirms the role of education in shaping labour market outcomes of young people," Azita Berar Awad, Director of the Employment Policy Department of the ILO, explained in a press release. "It also highlights the need for more investments in quality education, from primary through academic levels."

The report, Is education the solution to decent work for youth in developing economies?, found that 83% of youth across the world who hold degrees from higher education institutions have non-vulnerable jobs in the low to middle class countries researched, compared to 75% in low-income countries. In addition, having completed secondary education was shown to be not enough to ensure better labor market outcomes within low-income countries.

"Increasing the level of education of the emerging workforce in developing countries will not in itself ensure the absorption of higher skilled workers into non-vulnerable jobs," Theo Sparreboom, author of the study.

"Yet, it is clear that continuing to push forth undereducated, under-skilled youth into the labour market is a no-win situation, both for the young person who remains destined for a ‘hand-to-mouth existence' based on vulnerable employment, and for the economy which gains little in terms of boosting its labour productivity potential," he added.

The report also discusses the issue of "skills mismatch," or the disconnect of skills obtained by individuals seeking employment compared to the demands of the jobs currently available on the market. The issue becomes even greater between advances and low-income economies.

Within advanced economies, there are often higher skilled individuals employed in jobs to which they are over-qualified. Meanwhile, workers in low-income economies are typically not well educated and have "no option but to take vulnerable jobs in the informal economy," according to the ILO.

Poverty is a cause of the disparity, as many youth are unable to afford the costs associated with obtaining a degree, or they must work to support their families.

"The lack of education feeds the perpetuation of poverty across generations as unskilled workers earn lower wages and are unable to fund the schooling of their children."

The study comes as part of the Work4Youth project, a five-year partnership between the ILO Youth Employment Programme and The MasterCard Foundation hoping to offer better work opportunities for youth across the world through education and action.

12 22, 2014
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