The world at work: Jobs, pay, and skills for 3.5 billion people

Last month McKinsey released a report entitled: “The world at work: Jobs, pay, and skills for 3.5 billion people”. It looks at both global and regional job growth by education level, and maps those against regional population growth.  The patterns that come out need to be taken seriously.

  • 38 million to 40 million fewer workers with tertiary education (college or postgraduate degrees) than employers will need, or 13 percent of the demand for such workers
  • 45 million too few workers with secondary education in developing economies, or 15 percent of the demand for such workers
  • 90 million to 95 million more low-skill workers (those without college training in advanced economies or without even secondary education in developing economies) than employers will need, or 11 percent oversupply of such workers

So in short, there will be an enormous oversupply of unskilled workers and a similarly sized undersupply of highly edcucated workers, and both of these effects will be felt most keenly in developing economies.

Unemployment around the world will continue to grow, but there will be huge unmet demand for highly educated professionals in developing economies.  At the same time, those economies — with hordes of unemployed, and presumably angry, young adults — will be hotbeds of political instability.  Presumably the world will be a far more dangerous place then than now.

This raises a lot of questions in my mind.

  • How does a company like IBM need to set its strategic objectives to survive and thrive in what promises to be a highly chaotic work environment?
  • How does the Corporate Service Corps fit into such a strategy?
  • The report presents this evolution as inevitable.  Is it?  Are there any new, disruptive approaches that could stave off this impending gap?  I’m thinking in particular of disruptive education policies and the rise of freely available primary curricula along the lines of Kahn Academy; how can we leverage this kind of approach to make the size of the gap smaller?
  • Finally, and most importantly, what does this mean to me as a parent?  How do I advise my children as they decide how they want to shape their own lives, and help them plan their future?

None of these answers are particularly easy. But quixotic as it might be, I will have a go at it in the next post.

I strongly encourage you to read the article and download the full report, which provides additional detail on the regionalization of the issue.  You can find them here:

The world at work: Jobs, pay, and skills for 3.5 billion people

orld at work: Jobs, pay, and skills for 3.5 billion people

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