On the road to prosperity, education plays a critical role. But what happens when the education received does not match the requirements of the workplace? This is exactly the quandary faced by governments in Asia today, where the youth population is steadily increasing.
The education-to-employment gap
Asia has the world’s largest population of youth ‒ people aged 15 to 24. And while youth unemployment is lower than in other regions, many young people in Asia subsist through part-time work or are underemployed in jobs that do not match their education and training. That’s because they lack the necessary credentials to perform career-track jobs that require more specific qualifications. Often, by the time Asian youths graduate and begin seeking jobs, the content of their education is dated and does not match what employers need. To become a fully productive society, governments and other stakeholders need a solution to close the education-to-employment gap.
Solving the problem
Fixing this problem doesn’t involve one entity on its own: It requires the participation of government, educational and training institutions, businesses, and young people themselves. Governments should seek a solution to keep citizens satisfied and citizens should actively engage with that solution. Universities and training institutions need to stay relevant; businesses need an available, qualified labor force; and youth need employment options that
will sustain them and help them grow. Luckily, technological advances can play a key role.
The role of technology
Today’s technology provides the building blocks to address this situation. Consider the potential of an online cloud-based platform, which can become a virtual labor market linking all the important players, so job applicants can get the online training they need to succeed. It starts with analysis of the volumes of structured and unstructured data existing on job candidates in social media, and educational and training records along with a company’s information about open positions and the credentials required. Analyzing and connecting this data can enable the matching of employment seekers with real-time job opportunities. If a certification is needed, a training provider could ping the student, suggesting the required course to fulfill that qualification. And if funding is an issue, government could join the conversation and suggest the student apply for certain grants. Once registered, a student could engage with the training on his or her mobile device – anytime, anywhere.
The challenges ahead
Much of the technology to create such a platform exists, but there are still many challenges involving people, processes, and other facets of IT.
- People ‒ From training providers to businesses to policy makers, people need a shared vision to solve the gap between education and employment and make a virtual labor market a reality. For the solution to gain traction, students, policy makers, employers, trainers, and educators all need to actively engage with it and recognize the benefit it would provide. The platform needs to have built-in incentives so each player can answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”
- Processes ‒ The solution needs to work efficiently and be sustainable over time. From a user perspective, it needs to be simple and engaging to encourage constituents to interact through it. And it needs to have sufficient authentication measures to assure individuals and organizations that their information is private and secure.
- Technology ‒ The task of any technical solution is to answer the needs of people and processes. So the platform must be robust, cost effective, sustainable, and, importantly, secure.
Becoming a reality
In Europe, business and government have come together to create a cloud-based Internet platform to link the provision of e-learning courses and job openings. Called Academy Cube, the solution was created to help fulfill an initiative known as the European Commission’s Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs. The governments of Singapore and Saudi Arabia also are looking to create such a system in their respective countries.
With the elements of a solution at hand, the time has never been better for governments across Asia to look toward establishing a virtual labor market, to ensure the wellbeing of citizens and improve conditions for business. And that can translate to a thriving economy and a flourishing society. Learn more about technology solutions for the public sector.