Generation jobless

Youth unemployment is a worldwide problem, reports The Economist in  Generation jobless. Yet many employers in countries from the U.S. to Morocco say they can’t find entry-level workers with the right skills.

Poor basic education is only part of the problem.

Countries with the lowest youth jobless rates have a close relationship between education and work. Germany has a long tradition of high-quality vocational education and apprenticeships, which in recent years have helped it reduce youth unemployment despite only modest growth.

Countries with high youth unemployment are short of such links. In France few high-school leavers have any real experience of work. In north Africa universities focus on preparing their students to fill civil-service jobs even as companies complain about the shortage of technical skills. The unemployment rate in Morocco is five times as high for graduates as it is for people with only a primary education.

Employers do much less training on the job.

Many countries are trying to improve vocational schools and develop apprenticeships, reports The Economist.

In 2010 South Korea created a network of vocational “meister” schools—from the German for “master craftsman”—to reduce the country’s shortage of machine operators and plumbers. . . . In Britain some further-education colleges are embracing the principle that the best way to learn is to do: North Hertfordshire College has launched a business venture with Fit4less, a low-cost gym. Bluegrass College in Kentucky and Toyota have created a replica of a car factory, where workers and students go to classes together.

Bluegrass is a community and technical college, so job training is part of the mission. Many community colleges work closely with employers on workforce development.

Via Meadia has more thoughts on practical vs. academic education.

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  1. A lot of the factories around here have 3 basic requirements for an entry level job:
    Show up when you’re supposed to
    Don’t mouth off to your boss
    Don’t come to work high

    It’s apparently very hard to find young people who can meet these basic requirements for a job that pays 36K a year (more than many recent graduates of college or grad school make!)

  2. About 15 years ago, I read an article about the proposed finish-cabinetry program a local company was trying to start in one of the high schools (grad classes ~ 500). If they could get 12 entering sophomores or juniors (can’t remember which), who met their selection criteria and passed their interview, they would provide training sufficient to get their journeyman’s certificate (think that’s the right term) by graduation and the company would hire all successful graduates, at a very nice salary. The result; no takers. Some – rather toxic- combination of parents, teachers, guidance counselors etc. has made skilled trade work an unacceptable option, even though many kids could do it well and be happy with it.

    • Well, when you’ve got a broken air conditioner and it’s 100+ degrees outside and pushing close to 90 inside the house, the HVAC repair person is gonna clean up fixing your broken A/C.

      Same goes for the plumbing/electrical, etc.

      A line from the old sci-fi series SeaQuest said it best, IMO:

      Nothing you build with your own two hands is a waste of time (or effort) 🙂

  3. Stacy in NJ says:

    My advice to parents of teens: Get your kid some solid job skills when s/he’s a teen. They don’t need to be skills necessarily relating to their eventual college/vocational goals, just something that shows them how skills development and work experience can be beneficial. My 16 year old son became a lifeguard last year and will take further Red Cross certification courses this year to teach. These aren’t complex skills but do allow him to earn money while learning. He’s not planning on a professional career as a lifeguard and YMCA swim instructor, but it’s a great pre-professional experience.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      Correct. Learning to learn; learning that one can learn, is important. Learning real-world skills are more important in the learning-one-can-learn field than school learning. For some reason. Learning that one can skillfully, or at least reasonably, operate in different fields is important.
      Provides confidence.
      momof4’s story is tragic, not solely for the dozen or so whose future prospects were foreclosed, but because of the much larger effects of The Blob.