Around the world, governments and businesses face a conundrum: high levels of youth unemployment and a shortage of job seekers with critical skills. How can a country successfully move its young people from education to employment? What are the challenges? Which interventions work? How can these be scaled up? These are the crucial questions.
In Education to Employment: Designing a System that Works, McKinsey Center for Government (MCG) attempts to answer them. To do so, MCG developed two unique fact bases. The first is an analysis of more than 100 education-to-employment initiatives from 25 countries, selected on the basis of their innovation and effectiveness. The second is a survey of youth, education providers, and employers in nine countries that are diverse in geography and socioeconomic context: Brazil, Germany, India, Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The report’s findings include the following six highlights:
- Employers, education providers, and youth live in parallel universes. To put it another way, they have fundamentally different understandings of the same situation.
- The education-to-employment journey is fraught with obstacles. In building our fact base, we began to think of the education-to-employment system as a highway with three critical intersections: (1) enrolling in postsecondary education, (2) building skills, and (3) finding a job.
- The education-to-employment system fails for most employers and young people. Examples of positive outcomes in education to employment are the exception rather than the rule. Based on our survey data, we identified three distinct groups of employers. Only one of them, accounting for less than a third of the cohort (31 percent), is successful in getting the talent it requires.
- Innovative and effective programs around the world have important elements in common. Two features stand out among all the successful programs we reviewed. First, education providers and employers actively step into one another’s worlds. Second, in the best programs, employers and education providers work with their students early and intensely.
- Creating a successful education-to-employment system requires new incentives and structures. To increase the rate of success, the education-to-employment system needs to operate differently, in three important ways. First, stakeholders need better data to make informed choices and manage performance. Second, the most transformative solutions are those that involve multiple providers and employers working within a particular industry or function. Finally, countries need system integrators (one or several) responsible for taking a high-level view of the entire heterogeneous and fragmented education-to-employment system.
- Education-to-employment solutions need to scale up. There are three challenges to achieving scale: first, constraints on the resources of education providers, such as finding qualified faculty and investing in expansion; second, insufficient opportunities to provide youth with hands-on learning; and third, the hesitancy of employers to invest in training unless it involves specialized skills. There are solutions for each.
To learn more, download the full report here.