The Case for Employability
Enrollments in tertiary education are increasing rapidly. From 2000 to 2015, the number of students enrolled worldwide rose from nearly 100 million to more than 214 million. This number is expected to reach more than 470 million by 2035, with a jump of more than four percent projected annually through 2050. Over 85 percent of this growth will happen in emerging markets, an upward trend that's driven by a rise in population and urbanization, geopolitical shifts, and a revolution in technology.
There's a significant gap, however, between the aspirations of the education field and reality:
- 20% of the 1.3 billion young people ages 15-24 are unemployed or not pursuing their education.
- Per IFC’s Vitae research, 57% of graduates fail to find a job in their specialty.
- 54% of employers can’t find graduates with the right skills.
Solving the disconnect between what students are learning on the one hand, and the needs of labor markets on the other, is one of the major challenges of our time. It’s also an unprecedented opportunity for the more than 19,600 accredited higher education institutions that exist globally to go beyond achieving academic excellence and embrace employability as a goal to be actively pursued.
For youth to be productive and employable, higher education institutions must equip them with relevant market skills that blend knowledge and technical know-how with essential employability skills. To remain competitive as job markets evolve, these institutions will need to continually reassess their role to stay relevant, particularly as agile newcomers disrupt the market through innovation.
Photo courtesy of Universidad Continental
To ensure students transition quickly to meaningful careers, higher education institutions will need to shift to a new culture that engineers students’ skills to suit a more digital work environment where tasks are constantly changing and becoming more automated. To succeed, institutions must infuse essential employability skills through modern pedagogy, such as expanding career services and guidance, growing industry partnerships for research and work-integrated learning, and incorporating industry feedback into curriculum development and program design.
By adjusting their delivery of services and becoming more attuned to the needs of the marketplace, institutions can ensure that all students perceive higher education as a worthwhile investment that serves as a point of departure to becoming successful professionals.
"Previously, value resided in knowledge. Today, value lies in what one can do with that knowledge."
David Garza Salazar, President, Tecnológico de Monterrey