New skills for a labour market that is changing

mano_terraA few days ago, the OECD published an extensive report about the labour market and the contorted allocation of skills for youth. The numbers are anything but encouraging.

In 2013 OECD countries contained an army of 39 million NEET, aged 16-29; 5 million more than 2008, with a slight improvement in 2014. Moreover, we are running short of competencies. 10% of new graduates have poor literacy skills, 14% have poor numeracy skills, and more than 40% of those who left school before completing their upper secondary education have poor literacy and numeracy skills.

In addition to this, experience is also lacking. Less than 40% of students in academic programmes in OECD countries are participating in any kind of work-based learning. The outcome is that many companies refuse to hire young people with no experience, because it is too expensive. And those who do manage to successfully enter the labour market are usually on a temporary contract.

One reason for this is the mismatch between the skills offered by schools and the needs of the labour market, which are constantly changing. Too many young people leave school without the required skills, and have great difficulty finding a job, thus leading to a waste of a great degree of human capital. Young people, the authors maintain, should represent a vital resource for the economy, as opposed to a burden.

Today’s labour market calls not only for specific skills, but also for the ability to quickly adapt to its evolutions, and to a world that changes rapidly and needs those who can tackle complex problems with a critical and flexible mentality.

It could thus be useful to adopt a multidisciplinary approach, in which the sum of functions of the shareholders – that is the contamination of knowledge and skills – is superior to single performances.

An engagement of all players (family, companies, universities) is needed, to develop new and adaptive social skills, to meet the needs of the labour market and to satisfy the ambition of our young community, who want to roll up their sleeves, nurture their passions and build the future.

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