The context of technological revolution stimulates hopes and fears about the future which sometimes risk overshadowing some of the most urgent education-related challenges of today. This is especially true in developing and emerging economies where gaps in basic skills, such as numeracy and literacy remain persistent issues. Worldwide, hundreds of millions of children who end primary school do not master basic competencies. In fact, more than 60 percent of primary school children in developing countries still fail to achieve minimum proficiency thresholds in core competencies. In low-income countries, 14 percent of students reach this minimum level near the end of primary school, and in lower-middle-income countries the figure is 37 percent.
Learning shortfalls of basic skills during the school years show up as an impediment for employability in the workforce, and although the skills needed in labour markets are becoming more multidimensional, no student can afford to bypass foundational skills in reading, writing, and mathematics. Also, digital skills are now being considered a foundational skill as their absence can acutely disadvantage a child’s life chances. Educational disparities among and within G20 countries pose a major challenge on employability and inclusiveness that needs to be properly addressed, furthering efforts to close the basic education gaps in order to promote a level playing field for all.
Employability has to be a key component of education systems in order to avoid skills mismatches on the
Current labor market trends show that the pace of change is accelerating the demand for knowledge-based, interdisciplinary, project solving and team-based work, which in turn boosts the requirement for continued education. In addition, current skills shortfalls such as content skills, (namely reading comprehension, writing, speaking and active listening) and process skills (i.e. critical thinking and active learning) highlight the necessity of strengthening smart investments in innovative teaching methodologies in order to enhance students’ core competencies, particularly in STEM subjects with special focus in gender equality. At the same time, it is vital to foster a culture of integrity by including ethical citizen values and respect for the rule of law in educational curricula.
While technology innovation accelerates and brings along exciting new opportunities, we have to form citizens that are prepared to constantly adapt. To achieve this, it’s key to develop a “learning to learn” model that will help our population to stay open to the future.
G20 countries also need to invest in appropriate digital infrastructure to allow broad-based access to digital learning solutions and integrate them into the physical teaching environment. Digitalization is also an opportunity for women to improve their skills and income, and to increase their participation in the
Open, dynamic and inclusive
Social protection systems must be updated, looking for effective ways to adapt existing support systems to this new and growing workforce. Social protection schemes need to be adequate, comprehensive and portable, while at the same time they need to be financially sustainable. As for female employment, leaders should report the advances made on the implementation of the 2014 Brisbane commitment, especially in national policy plans
In addition, today, 1.3 billion people live in informal employment. Informality exacerbates inequalities and affects the most vulnerable in our societies. Besides, it creates an unfair competitive playing field. Therefore, the B20 calls for a roll back on informality. G20 leaders should reconsider the cost-benefit drivers of informality and encourage formalization through real benefits established in national-tailored policy plans. These may include streamlined business registration, temporary special incentives linked with
Entrepreneurship and innovation are also key drivers for job creation and economic growth in the formal economy. Yet, in most countries, the complexity of regulatory procedures remains the main obstacle to entrepreneurial activity. In turn, G20 leaders should promote an enabling environment for start-ups and entrepreneurs, facilitating their access to finance, by simplifying regulatory burden, such as registration processes, and by promoting practical entrepreneurial education in school and in VET institutions. At the same time, it is crucial that G20 leaders incentivize apprentices’ programs by implementing past commitments in this regard.