Converting Education into Employment in Europe: A McKinsey Study
Employment. When it comes down to it, it’s the end goal of what we discuss here at Daily Edventures. A well-educated workforce is the best way to ensure sustained economic and social advancement. Yet the growing disconnect between the skills that employers need and the skills that potential employees have continues to be an issue.
No matter what part of the world you live in, the problem of unemployment is not new. And especially in Europe, youth unemployment is a growing concern. According to a new publication by McKinsey & Company, youth unemployment has been double or even triple the rate of general unemployment in Europe for the last 20 years, with the events of the past few years dramatically worsening the situation. McKinsey reports that “5.6 million young people are unemployed across Europe, and a total of 7.5 million are neither being educated nor are they working.” And while young people want to work, says McKinsey, “more than half of those without jobs say they simply can’t find one—all while businesses across Europe insist they struggle to find young people with the skills they need.”
McKinsey set out to understand what is causing this disconnect, and perhaps more important, what can be done to address the problems. They surveyed 5,300 youth, 2,600 employers, and 700 postsecondary-education providers across eight countries: France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
What did they find? First, and not surprisingly, while there are more people looking for work, employers in Europe cannot find the skills they need. Second,youth face three significant hurdles: cost of post-secondary education, employers looking for skills – like communication and work ethic – that students are not graduating with, and the transition from school to work is not working.Third, the education to employment structure is failing for youth and small businesses. And fourth, there are proven ways to improve the education to employment “journey.” How?
- Innovate with design, course delivery, and financing to make education more affordable and accessible
- Focus young people, employers, and education providers on improving employment readiness
- Build the supporting structures that allow the best interventions to scale up
- Involve the European Union
We are wholeheartedly behind these proposed solutions, and agree much can be done to address these issues – both in Europe and around the globe. Microsoft recently published a study with IDC that identified the most required skills across all occupations: oral and written communication skills, attention to detail, customer service focus, organizational skills, and problem-solving skills. We also work to addresses the technical skills gap directly through our IT Academy, which helps students learn and develop these skills to mastery, and earn industry-recognized certification credentials. And Microsoft’s YouthSpark program was developed to close the opportunity gap.
The more we all work together to bridge the gap between employers’ needs and employees’ skills, the closer we will come to ensuring sustainable economic and social development, through the creation of high quality jobs and opportunities that offer people and communities an improving quality of life, and employees who are workforce ready.