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Voices from Former African Ministers of Education on the Challenges of Workforce Development

With contributions from:
-Haja N. Razafinjatovo, Former Minister of Finance and of Education,Madagascar
-Mamadou Ndoye, Former Minister of Education, Senegal
-Dzingai Mutumbuka, Former Minister of Education, Zimbabwe
-Birger Fredriksen, Former Sector Director for Human Development, World Bank, Africa Region

Several former African Ministers of Education attended Workforce Development: What Matters? at the World Bank. The event is part of the System Approach for Better Education Results, Workforce Development initiative (SABER WfD). Below are key takeaway messages from these former ministers regarding the initiative and the challenges of workforce development, particularly in Africa.  
 
WfD is a recognized global challenge. Countries at all levels of development are struggling to address the dual challenge of producing the skills required to achieve sustained economic growth in a rapidly changing global economy, and generating employment both for young people joining the labor force and for workers in declining industries.

Jobs and skills: more answers to your questions

Lars Sondergaard's picture

(Last week, I posted: “Wanted: Jobs and your questions about how to find them” on this blog. We received dozens of questions back through social media. Lars Sondergaard, a World Bank expert on education, answered some of them in a video and now he gets to a few more here. He throws out some questions of his own and would love to hear back from you. — Anne Elicaño)

Anonymous asked through the blog: I was wondering about job outlook for chemical and mechanical engineers in the future”

If you are just about to graduate as an engineer and worry whether you will be able to find a job, I have some good news: in most countries, too few students study engineering relative to the jobs available with the results that engineering graduates tend to have an easier time finding employment than their peers. A lot is written about this vibrant demand, check out this article in Forbes about the demand for engineers  (or the World Bank’s “Putting Higher Education to Work: Skills and Research for Growth”)

Answers to your questions on jobs and skills

Anne Elicaño's picture

 Earlier this week I asked you to send us your questions about the link between jobs and skills --which should I acquire to make it in the current job environment? Thanks for all the replies --there were so many and so interesting that Lars Sondergaard, our expert, will address in a separate blog post next week the ones that couldn't make it into the video interview. Stay tuned!

 

Wanted: Jobs –and your questions about how to find them

Anne Elicaño's picture
Lars Sondergaard will answer 5 of your questions in a video

Use social media to ask the World Bank about the type of skills and education that are needed in today’s global economy.

The global economic recession has made the search for a good, stable job even more significant.  In Asia, where I’m from, jobs have always been foremost in young people’s minds because of the harsh conditions brought about by social and economic inequality or, if you’re not from a developing country, the previous generations’ memory of it. We don’t have an equivalent to a “gap year” to take time out between the life stages of high school and university to travel.

What can make a person more employable? Policymakers say that having the right skills and good education largely have something to do with that. It’s not just about being able to go to school. In Thailand and some other countries, schools are linking with companies so that students can enhance the skills their future employers needs. A World Bank report, Putting Higher Education to Work: Skills and Research for Growth, also recommends investing more in research and scholarships, prioritizing underfunded but important subjects like engineering and sciences, and improving the management of public universities.

Have your say

Do you have a question about the effect of the recession on joblessness in your region? Or the type of skills most needed by the market?

We’re asking an expert on education, Lars Sondergaard, to take questions in a video interview that we’ll post at the end of this week. 

Here’s how to get involved:

Send your question using the comment function below to ask our expert. You can do it right now. You can also join the conversation on Twitter (send your questions to @worldbankasia) or on Facebook.

So what are you waiting for? Ask now and share with your friends!

Unemployment rates are falling—but what about youth and women?

Tamar Manuelyan Atinc's picture

Persistently high unemployment rates continue to trouble policymakers in developed and developing countries alike—but the recent Job Trends report brings some good news. After successive years of disappointing labor market performance, several countries in Eastern Europe may finally be turning the corner. These countries suffered most during the financial crisis, so the recovery in job creation is much needed to boost family incomes. In the rest of the developing world, the headlines are positive even while we see some moderation in employment and wage growth in Latin America and East Asia.

I have two concerns at this stage. I suspect most observers of the world economy share my first concern that the incipient recovery is fragile, given the continuing economic turmoil in Europe. But I am also concerned with what’s happening with specific groups, such as youth and women. I have a hunch that the recovery is and will be uneven with youth, women and the less skilled having a harder time finding jobs—even if aggregate numbers show steady gains. The crisis hit young workers hard, particularly young men, and countries are dealing with long-term consequences. Unfortunately, few countries know what’s happening with groups of workers because the data are not collected routinely or if they are, the results are available only with a relatively long lag time.

Where recent data are available, the story is mixed. Although youth unemployment remains alarmingly high at 20-30 percent,

A ‘Skilled’ Approach to Development

Ariel Fiszbein's picture

These days, there is a lot of talk about skills and their importance for a country’s development. Not too long ago the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called skills and knowledge “the driving forces of economic growth and social development in any country.” Last week, President Obama in his State of the Union address mentioned, once again, the critical importance of upgrading workers skills as part of his call for ‘An America Built to Last’.

How to Make Horticulture Value Chains Work for Women?

Miki Terasawa's picture

Sima is a chairperson of Ghoryan Women Saffron Association. Her association was formed by the Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees (DACAAR) and received a small grant to help improve their post-harvest processing. The women purchased a saffron drier and learned post-harvest processing, including hygiene, grading, sorting, and packaging. They identified two women trainers to ensure quality control. In 2010, the association doubled saffron production, and the sales price increased by almost 110 percent. From the user fee, the women saved Af 108,700 (approximately US$ 2,100) and plan to buy another drier. “Men now make tea for their wives, when we are busy during the saffron season,” Sima says.

Do Young People have the Skills to Realize their Aspirations?

Keshavi Puswewala's picture

My friends and I often have casual chats at the university café and cafeteria about random topics ranging from life, the future, jobs and wherever else the conversation leads us. Recently, I participated in a discussion conducted by a research company where they asked for insights from University seniors and recent graduates about our aspirations.

There were 7 of us in the group from the University of Colombo, Kelaniya, Jayewardenepaura and Moratuwa. The representative from the research company asked about our goals. Though I’ve known them for 3 years, this is the first time I heard them seriously talk about their ambitions and goals in life. Most of them have very lofty goals and objectives. We were asked to list important considerations for potential jobs. This is what we came up with.

From Tribal Hamlet to Financial Consultancy...

Meera Shenoy's picture

It has been a long journey for Shekar Nalla –from a small tribal village in Andhra Pradesh, India to selling insurance products in the metropolitan city of Hyderabad.

Shekar’s family lived a hand to mouth existence, and he thought that maybe someday in the future he would earn Rs. 24,000 (US$400) per year. But now, Shekar earns Rs. 156,000 (US$3000) annually through his new job with an insurance company.

His widowed mother no longer has to struggle because Shekhar sends her Rs. 60,000 (US$1500) a year. With his new job the status of the family has risen among the village headman and higher caste members, especially when he sent home a colored Samsung TV—the first in his village. “Richer relatives who avoided us, call me saying, ‘Shekar can you show me a job’,” said Shekhar.

The United Nations commemorated the International Year of Youth from August 11, 2010 to August 11, 2011. To promote youth participation towards progress and development, the Rural Livelihoods team at the World Bank has put youth like Shekar Nalla at the forefront of poverty reduction and maximizing rural growth.


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