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Too much education, not enough skills causing youth unemployment

The Daily Telegraph (online), 26 November 2017 - THE key to tackling youth unemployment may be a good dose of reality.

Years of parents and teachers telling children to “follow their dreams” as they can “be anything they want to be” has helped create a generation of young people who have made impractical career choices, emerging from education with high-level qualifications but a lack of skills that employers need.

More than one in 10 young Australians (12.5 per cent) is looking for work and unable to find it, with unemployment among 15 to 24-year-olds more than double that of the general workforce (5.6 per cent), the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals.

But this figure does not necessarily equate to a lack of jobs.

“Skills mismatch” is a global issue affecting not only individuals but economies, says research professor Seamus McGuinness of The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in Ireland.

Speaking at the WorldSkills Conference in Abu Dhabi, he says even those youth who do have a job are often working outside their area of expertise.

“It is perfectly fine for young people to follow their dream, but it is also important that they make a realistic assessment of the labour market of their chosen profession in terms of factors such as employment rates (and) salaries before undertaking their studies,” McGuinness says.

He says about one in four workers in developed countries believe they are over-educated for their role, and the same again believe they are under-skilled.

“For example, an over-educated worker would be a worker who has a degree but believes their job only requires a high school diploma,” he says.

“An under-educated worker is someone who has a high school diploma but says ‘actually my job really needs a degree’.

“An over-skilled (worker) is someone who says I have too many skills and abilities over and above what this job requires, and an under-skilled worker is someone who says ‘I don’t have the skills and abilities to do that job’.

“Around 40 per cent of (university) graduates are working in areas outside their field of study.”

The solution to skills mismatch may be in technical and vocational education and training (TVET).

WorldSkills Australia chair Brian Wexham says many people who leave or graduate from university end up at TAFE anyway.

“They can’t get a job so they then have to look for an appropriate skill or trade that can perhaps complement their degree in order for them to be more employable,” he says.

Wexham says skills mismatch is worse for this generation because of the proliferation of universities throughout the past 20 years.

“We turned technical colleges into universities,” he says.

“It is so accessible now for anybody to be able to go to university (so) people don’t necessarily think hard enough about doing it.”

Airconditioning and refrigeration mechanic Nathan McHugh has definitely seen a shortage of people with his skills.

The Queenslander, who represented Australia in his trade at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017, attributes the lack of young people in airconditioning and refrigeration largely to the belief promoted by schools that a university education is the only indicator of success.

“In Australia, we have a lot of trouble just getting the apprentices to start ... so definitely (there is) a skill shortage,” he says.

“On the other side, there are countries that have a lot of manpower but lack the qualifications because they don’t have the training.

“I believe Australia is in a good position, we just need to promote trades and skills.

“Our training level is very high so that will repair the skills shortage but that’s obviously not going to happen overnight.

“It’s something we have to work on, (helping) people to get the understanding about what trades and skills are all about.”

McHugh won a Medallion of Excellence at the international WorldSkills competition.

Australia’s next national competition will be held in Sydney in June, 2018.

Source: https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/business/work/too-much-education-not-enough-skills-causing-youth-unemployment/news-story/1de627be83c2f4bb369b619f44f3d900

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