Solvable Problem: The Youth Skills Gap

Prepare and productively employ youth at living wages with growth opportunities in environments of mutual respect.

Young people aged 15–24 continue to be disproportionately affected by unemployment, with 74.5 million youth unemployed in 2013. The proportion of youth that is both unemployed and without formal education or training has continued a steep upward trend since 2008, reaching an astounding 25 percent in some countries. Youth require greater access to education and relevant skills development to attain productive employment and decent work in the global economy.
Paradoxically, in spite of the swelling population of youth ready to begin their careers, employers are having a difficult time filling open jobs. In 2013, the Manpower Group’s worldwide “Talent Shortage Survey” reported that 35 percent of 38,000 employers globally had difficulty filling jobs due to a lack of available talent. Hiring managers are seeking people with the ability to be immediately productive, standards that demand both hard and soft skills.
The skills gap is a complex problem that requires attention now, as the world’s youth strive for a life of purpose, dignity, and economic stability. The result of inaction is a frightening prospect. While unprepared youth face significant barriers to entry into the formal economy, the alternatives are informal sector jobs or no jobs at all, potentially turning these assets into a societal burden, or even a security threat.
Academia and preparatory programs must adapt to fill these needs, while public policies and private investment must also support the change. Leading companies need to invest—with both human and financial capital—to pave the path for the workforce of the future.
Photo courtesy of IBM

Solving the Solvable

The United Nations’ Global Goals provide a comprehensive vision for a sustainable future. However, their broad reach often leaves individuals, organizations, and governments wondering, “Where do we begin?” We believe that starting with a focus on specific, solvable problems, within the context of these Goals, offers a path forward to create enduring, systemic change.
The skills gap is a solvable problem given the private sector’s understanding of the skill sets in demand and ability to support curriculum and skills development. Strategic partnerships between private sector employers and public sector education systems can lead the way to prosperity and purpose for tomorrow’s workforce.
No Poverty
Quality Education
Gender Equality
Decent Work and Economic Growth

Skills Gap Stories

"Economic opportunity is increasingly out of reach for millions of young people. Without the right skills or education, they find themselves stuck in low-skill, low-wage jobs or unemployed. We are investing in high-quality career-focused education programs so that more young people have a shot at real economic opportunity."

Jamie Dimon

JPMorgan Chase & Co.
"We need cross-sector collaboration to solve many issues, but a pressing one – and one vital to our economy’s health and future – is that of closing the skills gap. There is a great disconnect between labor supply and demand, and we’re not effectively preparing our young people to obtain gainful employment. Just think about the possibilities if we could get business leaders, educators, and policymakers to partner together and create innovative solutions to put people to work and halt the growing inequality in America."

Sarah Middleton

PIMCO Foundation