There are 200 million people around the world who are unemployed. Business-led actions and a lifelong learning approach can help move the needle.
Unemployment has far-reaching effects. It not only impacts the financial status and health of individuals and their families, but has drastic consequences for the community and the economy. The numbers are sobering: by 2018, more than 215 million people worldwide will have no means of earning a livelihood.
The United Nations has outlined 17 goals for sustainable development to transform the world, including ending poverty, zero hunger, clean water, affordable energy, and education. But how can these goals be achieved without decent work and economic growth? And while education is clearly fundamental, how can we be sure people are learning the right skills for employment in the future?
A growing mismatch of skill
Today, 47% of occupations are at risk of being replaced by technology. Jobs such as driving or translating, which previously could be performed only by humans are now done by computers. Still in demand, however, are low-skill jobs that must be done face-to-face, and high-skill jobs requiring extensive cognitive skills and complex interaction.
According to data collected by the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Partnership on Employment, Skills and Human Capital, by 2020 there will be a global surplus of 90 million low-skilled workers and a shortfall of 85 million skilled workers. Staying competitive will require a lifelong learning mindset.
“We’re moving to a hierarchy based on skills versus credentials,” says David Shrier, managing director, Connection Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an online learning program that narrows the gap between available and required skills by enabling people to immediately apply what they learn to the workplace.
Solutions through public private partnerships
The World Economic Forum brings global leaders together to improve the state of the world using a unique collaboration platform: A global agenda engages regional leaders to find industry based solutions for local needs.
Last year the WEF Global Partnership stakeholders developed a toolkit to help address the challenges of unemployment. Businesses can team up with public organizations to develop employment skills needed in their industries and foster entrepreneurship that is relevant to their markets.
For example, Kenya needs to create 3.9 million jobs for young people by 2020. The SAP Skills for Africa program provides technology certification for underprivileged youth and places them in jobs within the SAP ecosystem, dramatically changing their lives. “The program opened my mind to the possibilities of technology in business,” says Antony Gatuke.
Other SAP programs support entrepreneurs include Willem Nolans, whose company brings affordable solar energy to poor communities, creating local jobs; and John Waibochi, CEO of Virtual City, a software company that specializes in connecting farmers with their partners and supply chain.
Going far together
“All industries are becoming digital industries. Therefore it is not only in our interest, but in the interest of society for us to focus on equipping young people with skills they need to be successful and productive in the digital economy, “ said Alicia Lenze, VP SAP Corporate Social Responsibility. “Working together in collaboration with the Forum, we are in a better position to reshape the future of jobs, education and skills, as we do our part to improve the state of the world.”
There’s an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
When it comes to solving big issues like employment, education, and poverty, we must all go together as a society if we are serious about improving lives for millions of people around the world.
For more on how business and technology can help solve the world’s social problems, see Financial Inclusion: Why The World Needs More.