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Report: Better Educated Workforce Not Leading to Lower Unemployment

  • Lisa Schlein

FILE - Workers are seen in office windows in the financial district of Canary Wharf in London, Nov. 3, 2015.

FILE - Workers are seen in office windows in the financial district of Canary Wharf in London, Nov. 3, 2015.

A new report finds workers around the world are becoming more educated. But the International Labor Organization notes in "Key Indicators of the Labor Market” a better educated, higher-skilled workforce is not leading to lower unemployment globally.

A survey of more than 200 countries shows a definite link between the level of education and the ability of workers to access the labor market. The data suggest a strong correlation between the level of education and national productivity levels based on workers' output.

Steven Kapsos, who heads the International Labor Organization’s Data Productions and Analysis Unit, says benefits achieved in productivity from a more educated workforce are essential for long-term improvements in competitiveness and broader economic development.

He does, however, note a downside.

“The data do not show that more educated workers automatically have a better chance of finding a job," he said. "While they are less likely to be unemployed in most high-income economies, tertiary graduates in low- and lower-middle-income economies are actually more likely to be among the unemployed than workers with a lower educational attainment level. So a key message here is that while a more educated global workforce enhances the potential for economies to grow and develop, this is not an automatic process.”

For that to happen, Kapsos says the skills and educational levels of the workforce have to be successfully matched to meet the demands of the economy.

The report notes the number of people employed in manufacturing in high-income economies since 2000 has declined by 5.2 million, while it has grown by 195 million in middle-income countries.

At the same time, it finds a substantial decline in the number of so-called working poor. It says the number of people living on less than $2 per person, per day has fallen by 479 million between 2000 and 2015.

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