Education to Employment – the skills gap vs high youth unemployment

Pavan Arora, Director of Content at IBM Watson,  kindly pointed me to this McKinsey Report – Education to Employment. It’s a global study, looking at the following:

Around the world, governments and businesses face a conundrum: high levels of youth unemployment and a shortage of job seekers with critical skills. How can a country successfully move its young people from education to employment? What are the problems? Which interventions work? How can these be scaled up? These are the crucial questions.

Here are three excerpts that I find relevant:

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by 2020 there will be a global shortfall of 85 million high- and middle-skilled workers

There is no comprehensive data on the skills required for employment or on the performance of specific education providers in delivering those skills.

This analysis is central to the way we came to understand the issue, and it represents a new way of thinking about how to address the twin crises of joblessness and the skills shortage.

I have kids in elementary and middle school right now – as a parent I’m researching everything about the current and future skills gap. I want to ensure my kids a) know their interests and strengths, b) don’t blindly pursue a degree and discover later on it doesn’t have any value in the real world and c) develop key skills that the future will need, so they can thrive as adults .

I think anyone who’s looked at the number of college-degree holders with crazy debt and poor prospects, the rate of change in the kinds of jobs available [or the growing test opt-out, homeschooling and charter school movements]  knows a disruption in education is needed and happening already. But – schooling and education isn’t going to change fast enough to help my kids; let’s be real – Common Core took a decade to take hold, and seems to be creating more problems than it solves. Thus my interest. Right now I’m just trying to work out what the high level skills ARE…

SO, back to the McKinsey Report: here are some of the skills needed that are important to employers:  teamwork, problem solving, creativity, written communications, leadership.

mckinsey education to employment skills chart

The chart above also shows the difference between employers and providers (educators) POV as to what skills are important and also how competent new hires are.

Anyone have other sources with their own take on what skills are needed and not addressed by K-12 schooling? Please send me a link! (I hope some teachers will answer.)

I don’t expect there IS one definitive, set-in-stone list of skills, do you? But I figure I’ll go through a bunch of ideas and see if I can come up with something. You can’t start enhancing your kid’s learning if you don’t know where it needs to go.

Pavan’s Tedx Talk touches on “Collaboration, Creativity, and Problem Solving”  as skills that are very much needed.

I also pulled out my copy of “The Education of Millionaires – everything you won’t learn in college to be successful“, by Michael Ellsberg. Michael is a BIG critic of university degrees, and their lack of relevance. He lists out seven skills which include – finding meaning in work, having mentors/teachers/network, marketing yourself, cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset (not an employee mindset). His book applies more to Bachelor of Arts than science degrees, BTW…I’d better dig back into that book and post a separate column, I’d say.

I’m collecting all my possible source materials using Pocket ( and now curating some of it on Pinterest (yes!) so it’s available to anyone who wants to browse it.

One thought on “Education to Employment – the skills gap vs high youth unemployment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: