7.3 Place significant focus on the development of foundational skills

Each year, the Education for All (EFA) initiative publishes a major “themed” report on progress towards education-related Millennium Development Goals called the Global Monitoring Report (GMR).  The 2012 GMR, entitled Youth and Skills—Putting Education to Work, focuses on the foundational, transferrable, and technical and vocational skills required to create pathways out of poverty for urban and rural youth in developing countries. One key finding is that governments and donors alike do not devote adequate attention to skill development, particularly within low-income countries.  The report also emphasizes school to work transitions and the need for “second chance” options for youth to gain foundational (literacy and numeracy) skills that are transferable in changing economies. The authors emphasize the important role secondary education plays in preparing youth for work, and offer recommendations for governments and implementers.

For further information, see: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-...

Research Spotlight: The Rockefeller Foundation and R4D on Effectively Delivering Skills

Supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, Research for Development (R4D) recently completed its first phase of research on the skills needed for future employment and is now identifying the models needed to effectively deliver the skills required for employment.  Not surprisingly, the most effective models identified were those that link skills training to employer needs, including:

  • Successful public private partnerships and NGO programs that link skills training to the needs of local employment markets
  • Innovative use of ICTs to supplement mainstream teaching
  • Successful models of open and distance learning
  • Scholarship and mentorship schemes to address demand-side constraints
  • Innovations to improve teaching and modernize curriculum

The study also found that there is relatively little evaluation of the impact of innovation. For that reason, further research is needed on the following:

  • Systematic evaluation of the impact of innovations on young people’s job chances
  • More effective innovations to deliver 21st century skills
  • Affordable models to use ICTs effectively to improve learning and skills
  • Successful models to mainstream innovation within government secondary education systems

Over the course of 2012, R4D assessed employer needs, explored existing curricula systems, and identified existing innovative skills delivery models in Africa and Asia under the Innovative Secondary Education for Skills Enhancement (ISESE) project. The resulting 12 background studies include a broad review of issues related to skills, education, and economic development in 12 focus countries across Africa and Asia.

Their research found that while technical and basic cognitive (or analytical) skills are still important in the workplace, transferable skills are growing in importance, particularly for the informal economy. These skills include critical thinking and problem solving, teamwork, communications, time management, and flexibility. This type of skill development in girls is especially important, as women are more likely to be engaged in this sector. Key features of models that successfully deliver these skills include an emphasis on multi-stakeholder partnerships, updated pedagogy, and innovative financing mechanisms that improve access to quality, relevant skills at the secondary level.

For more information about the ISESE, see http://resultsfordevelopment.org/focus-areas/innovative-secondary-education-skills-enhancement

At UNESCO’s Third International Congress on Technical and Vocational Education and Training, which took place in Shanghai, China, in May 2012, participants defined a seven-point action plan and proposed recommendations relevant to tackling the skills development needs of disadvantaged youth. Recommendations from participants included: adopting innovative measures to improve the quality and inclusiveness of technical and vocational education and training; targeting disadvantaged groups, including learners with disabilities, marginalized and rural populations, migrants, and those in situations affected by conflict and disaster; and promoting equal access of females and males to technical and vocational education and training programs, particularly in fields where there is strong labor market demand. For more information, visit: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/education-events/?tx_browser_pi1%5BshowUid%5D=4933.