With over 90 crore people under age 24, South Asia is home to the world's largest youth workforce. However, over half of them will not have the skills to become employable in the next decade, said UNICEF's seventh executive director, Henrietta H Fore.
Referring to recent UNICEF data, Fore warned this unskilled labor will result in slower GDP growth.
Here are more details.
In 2030, only 47% Indian youth will have education, skills
Recently, UNICEF, along with the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) and the Education Commission reported that by 2030, 54% South Asian schools will leave school without the required skills for a decent job.
In India, only 19% of children are on track to complete their secondary and reach the learning benchmarks today, the report said. By the year 2030, this number will go up to 47%.
Every day, 100,000 young South Asians enter labor market: Fore
Further, Fore said, "Every day, nearly 100,000 young South Asians- a large sports stadium of young people- enter the labor market, almost half of them not on track to find 21st century jobs."
She added, "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."
'Employment crisis' indicates slower GDP growth in future
According to GBC-Education, youth unemployment is high in South Asia, reaching 9.8% in 2018.
The reason behind the changing labor market demands are over— or under—qualification of job candidates.
Speaking to DWNews, Fore described it as an "employment crisis."
She said, "This means South Asian countries will experience slower GDP growth, and many women and men will not have a chance to contribute economically."
Fore recommends an 'overhaul of education system'
Fore told DW that public and private institutions should contribute to advancing education and skills so the youth could find well-paying jobs.
"That requires an overhaul of the education system—including schools—where many of the children aren't learning the skills they need for their future," she said.
She warned, "If we don't take proper action to resolve this problem, we will be failing this generation."
Governments should focus on early childhood education: Fore
She said, "Governments should focus on early childhood education. The brain and body develop rapidly when children are under the age of five, and their learning during this time sets them up for the future."
She added, "If that can be sustained through primary and secondary school and proper skills are imparted, they will become productive members of society."
Skill India, Start-up India are good initiatives, said Fore
Speaking about government programs in India, Fore said, "Both Skill India and Start-up India are good initiatives. But they are just a beginning. India is on the right track by trying to reform its education system and lay emphasis on imparting skills."