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Millennials forced to put lives on hold
The OECD warned that economic problems would continue to haunt countries that don’t help young people who are forced out of the job market or get marginalized in low-paying jobs. Many of those young people are in danger of becoming chronically or even permanently unemployed as adults as they “lose touch” with the job market.
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria noted recently that in many countries, there’s a mismatch between the science and technical skills sought by employers and the general education of many young people seeking jobs. Businesses often complain that they can’t find the right skills within the millions of applications they receive.
“A better match must be achieved between the skills youths acquire at school and those needed in the labor market,” Mr. Gurria said.
An OECD study this year found that nations such as Germany and Austria that provide good avenues for young people to acquire technical and vocational skills — without necessarily going to college — have the lowest youth unemployment rates.
The study found too much emphasis in the U.S. on generalized university educations without enough job-oriented training. Community colleges often provide more practical work-related training than universities and colleges.
While positions for engineers, information-technology staff, math teachers and machine operators can be hard to fill in growing fields such as robotics, space tourism and nanotechnology, some of the most difficult jobs are in popular areas of study such as architecture and design.
The administration and Congress have taken stabs at refocusing the education system on job-related training, but much more needs to be done, the OECD found. What’s at stake is not just individual careers, but the future competitiveness of the economy, Mr. Gurria said.
“Tackling the large human cost of unemployment, especially for those youths who fail to get a permanent foothold in the labor market, must be a priority,” he said.
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