South Asia has the largest youth labour force in the world with nearly 100,000 young people entering the labour market each day, says a new study, reports BSS.
The study was jointly conducted by the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education), the Education Commission, and UNICEF.
It reveals that South Asia will have the largest youth labour force in the world until 2040 with almost half of its population of 1.8 billion below the age of 24, led by India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, according to a UNICEF press release.
This offers the region the potential to drive vibrant and productive economies. If strong investments in skills development are made, the region is poised to maintain strong economic growth as well as an expansion of opportunities in the education and skills sectors in the coming decades, the study observes.
However, the study cautions that the South Asia lags behind several other regions in preparing the next generation of young people with the skills they will need for the 21st century work, since about 54 per cent of the youths in the region leave school without necessary skills to get a decent job in the next decade.
"Every day, nearly 100,000 young South Asians - a large sports stadium of young people - enter the labour market, almost half of them not on track to find 21st century jobs," UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.
"South Asia is at a critical juncture, with a limited window during which it can reap significant demographic dividends from its talented and capable youth. Get it right, and millions could be lifted out of poverty.
Fail to do so, and economic growth will falter, youth despair will rise, and further talent will be lost to other regions," Fore added. However, a recent UNICEF 'Voices of Youth' survey conducted among 32,000 young people in South Asia reveals concerns among these under 24-year-olds about how well they are being prepared for the modern economy.
According to the poll, many young people in South Asia feel their education systems are outdated and do not prepare them for employment.
They cite the lack of work experience (26 per cent), inadequate support services to improve employability (23 per cent received no support and most received limited and not comprehensive support), and bribery demands or discriminatory and unfair hiring practices (44 percent) as key barriers to finding employment even after they have graduated.
"This is a crisis," said Justin Van Fleet, executive director of the Global Business Coalition for Education.
"Addressing the youth skills gap in South Asia requires government investments, commitments from the business community, contributions from civil society, and the perspective of young people to best equip the next generation to successfully enter the rapidly changing job market," Fleet added.
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