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.
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.
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.
Timor-Leste has one of the youngest populations in the world, with more than three quarters under 30. Opening pathways for young people – allowing them to get an education, find employment and engage in public life – will be critical for building lasting peace and development.
The prerequisites to get a good job in today’s economy are as uncertain as the economy itself. Some experts emphasize intelligence. Others say high math and reading skills are a must. Yet some experts laud entrepreneurship and that one need only to express themselves in a competitive and globalized world.
Obviously, all of this is important. Nevertheless, economists in recent years have discovered something that employers, psychologists and many educators and parents have known for a long time. A person’s socio-emotional qualities or “skills” are at least as important as their cognitive capacity or whatever knowledge they may have to place themselves in a changing labor market.
The ability to be responsible, punctual, organized, persevering, interact with others, react and adapt to new situations and experiences, describes –along with cognitive capacity– the generic abilities that are essential in a “well educated” labor force, one prepared to confront the challenges of the future.
|Umbrella factory in Chiang Mai (courtesy of rustybadger under a Creative Commons license). Thailand's workers need to contribute more complex tasks to the su|
Skills affect individual and firm productivity as well as countries’ prospects for sustained and faster economic growth. Yet evidence exists that many employers are concerned about skills constraints (see figure below); and that in many countries, unemployment and underemployment among educated youth are a problem.
Following the recent launch of the World Bank’s new Education Strategy for 2020 by President Robert Zoellick, we now turn to thinking about how the new strategy translates into action on the ground around the world. In Europe and Central Asia (ECA), how can the principles of learning for all make a difference for this rapidly transforming region?
The headlines are sobering:
• The Arab World has 25% youth unemployment – the highest in the world – and female youth unemployment is even higher reaching over 30%
• The economic loss of youth unemployment costs US$40 to $50 billion annually – equivalent to the GDP of countries like Tunisia or Lebanon
• One third of the population in the region is below the age of 15 – a further third is aged 15 to 29.
• Two thirds of young people surveyed believe they do not have the skills required to get a good job
It is widely held that the revolutions taking place across the Middle East have been fuelled by a generation of youth who are over-educated or poorly-educated and unemployed. Education for Employment (e4e) is an initiative that seeks to ‘realize Arab youth potential’ by providing education opportunities that focus on employability. The World Bank Group's International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Islamic Development Bank commissioned research for 22 countries across the Arab World with ‘deep dive’ research undertaken in 9 countries. The report found that demand for e4e solutions is substantial and yet supply is nascent. It also identified that critical enablers are missing, such as quality and standard setting, funding mechanisms, internship opportunities and information for young people on the value of different types of education.
Brain drain—the migration of talent across borders—has an impact on Malaysia’s aspiration to become a high-income nation. Human capital is the bedrock of the high-income economy. Sustained and skill-intensive growth will require talent going forward. For Malaysia to be successful in its journey to high income, it will need to develop, attract and retain talent. Brain drain does not appear to square with this objective: Malaysia needs talent, but talent seems to be leaving.