OVAE Connection

                                                                May 23, 2013 - Issue 151

Worldwide Youth Unemployment and Job Skills Challenges Beginnings of a Solution

McKinsey & Company’s Center for Government (MCG) report, Education to Employment: Designing a System that Works, examines dual global crises—high levels of youth unemployment and a shortage of job seekers with critical job skills. The International Labour Organization estimates that 75 million young people are unemployed globally and probably triple that number if estimates of the underemployed were included. 

The report states that although global leaders are aware of the painful consequences for the social and economic conditions of youths believing their futures are compromised, the leaders struggle not only to develop effective responses, but also to define what they need to know. While it is shown that employers need to work with education providers so students can learn the skills they need to succeed in the workplace, there is little clarity on which practices and interventions work, and which can be scaled up successfully. To that end, the report focuses on skill development, giving special attention to the mechanisms that connect education to employment. 

In addition to the two crises, the report addresses a lack of data about which skills are required for employment, what practices are the most promising in training youths, and how to identify the programs with the best results. In response, the authors developed two unique fact bases: an analysis of more than 100 education-to-employment initiatives in 25 countries (selected on the basis of their innovation and effectiveness), and a survey of 8,000 youths, education providers, and employers in nine countries—Brazil, Germany, India, Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The result is the development of a global perspective on what characterizes successful skills-training systems. 

Six report findings emerged from the report (See pp. 18–21):

  1. Employers, education providers, and youth live in parallel universes;
  2. The education-to-employment journey is fraught with obstacles;
  3. The education-to-employment system fails for most employers and young people;
  4. Innovative and effective programs around the world have important elements in common;
  5. Creating a successful education-to-employment system requires new incentives and structures; and
  6. Education-to-employment solutions need to scale up. 

This first-of-its-kind report for McKinsey is intended to begin to fill the knowledge gap, provide a useful road map of the education-to-work system for the future, and serve as a structured call to action to improve the understanding of employers, education providers, governments, and young people about what is needed in the area of skill development.

The Enduring Challenge of Concentrated Poverty in the U.S.

               What the Latest Research Tells Us

The Federal Reserve System’s Community Affairs staff, in collaboration with its twelve member banks, and the Brookings Institution recently released the results of a two-year study on concentrated poverty, including case studies of 16 communities in rural, town, urban, and suburban settings. The study, The Enduring Challenge of Concentrated Poverty in America: Case Studies from Communities Across the U.S., finds that “all of these communities face obstacles related to underperforming local schools and low adult labor market skills; insufficient quality and diversity of housing; lack of mainstream commercial investment; and the limited capacity of local public, private, and non-profit organizations to navigate this suite of challenges.” Through its consideration of the variety of factors that contribute to the existence of concentrated poverty, this study questions the often-repeated view that the United States can educate itself out of poverty. In addition to improving education, other factors must be addressed. 

“[P]overty connotes places as well as people.” The term “concentrated poverty” links the intersection between these two understandings of poverty—people and places. Poor populations tend to be clustered into very poor communities in many parts of America. This concentration of poor people in small geographical areas—frequently measured at the census-tract level—is thought to place additional burdens on poor families, in addition to what the circumstances of individuals and families would engender. “In addition, concentrated poverty can have wider effects on surrounding areas that limit overall economic potential and social cohesion.” 

In general, the study looks at the effects of concentrated poverty on (1) individuals, families and neighborhoods and (2) private-sector investment. These effects and their causes are difficult to disentangle and to measure. Consider academic achievement. Is the limited academic achievement of a teenager living in concentrated poverty the result of living in a poor family, of being in a classroom where the majority of his or her classmates are also poor, or of limited academic achievement among his or her peers, regardless of their socioeconomic status? Or, is it due to a combination of these factors? 

The evidence is strong that private-sector investment is inhibited in areas of concentrated poverty. Concentrations of large numbers of low-income and low-skilled households make communities unattractive to both mainstream investors and employers as well as for business-siting decisions. And the absence of well-capitalized businesses has a limiting influence on local amenities, job opportunities, and available housing. As important as these factors are, and while most researchers, according to the report, agree that “individual and family characteristics matter more for outcomes than do characteristics of their surrounding areas,” more research is warranted on the complex dynamics of concentrated poverty and its effects on families.

OVAE Participation in National Career Clusters Institute

At the 2013 National Career Clusters® Institute, Achieving Excellence, on June 9–12 in Ft. Worth, Texas, OVAE will host five sessions: (1) Career Academy Morning Pre-Session, (2) Criteria for High Quality CTE Programs, (3) Applying Lessons Learned in CTE to Adult Career Pathways (webcast), (4) “No More Next Buttons” - Using Simulations in Career and Technical Education through OER, and (5) Trends in CTE Data. We hope many of you will join us in one or more of these sessions.

May 23 Online Panel Discussion on TAACCCT Grant Opportunity

The U.S. departments of Labor and Education invite you to a live online panel discussion on May 23 from 1:30 to 3p.m. This session will highlight important focus areas for the third round of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program, including employer engagement, capacity building, and innovative service delivery.  

In the last two years, the Labor Department has awarded $1 billion in grants to over 600 colleges and universities working to expand and improve training opportunities by strengthening local and regional partnerships. Approximately $474 million is available through the third round of TAACCCT funding announced on April 19, 2013.  

Current grantees, nationally recognized experts and administration officials will share their experiences and advice. Officials include Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Jane Oates, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Gerri Fiala, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education for Vocational and Adult Education Johan Uvin.  

Whether you are planning to apply for a grant, looking to partner on a program in your community or simply have an interest in the TAACCCT program, we encourage your participation in this informative event. All members of the public are invited.