Youth unemployment is becoming a global issue.
The official global youth unemployment rate is forecasted to reach 12.7% this year, and will stay sustained at this high level until at least 2016. This statistic only captures the high level of youth unemployment in the formal sector and does not account for youth who have become discouraged from seeking formal employment or are unsuccessfully trying to make a living in the informal sector.
The education angle
Education is crucial to addressing youth unemployment. In a past blog, my colleague Ian Matthews discussed the need to invest in individuals’ skills and knowledge to increase economic activity and expand institutional capacity.
Is technical and vocational education a viable solution?
There's a current debate on the advantages and disadvantages of technical and vocational education. The case against technical education includes high expenses due to the need for specialized facilities and equipment, the prevalence of inefficient and ineffective public technical education providers, and the common stigma attached these programs that they are inferior to general education.
However, technical and vocational education systems, when designed flexibly to meet market needs, can help address structural unemployment and more broadly encourage economic growth. Technical and vocational education programs focus specifically on providing job-related skills for disadvantaged students who do not have the financial means or academic achievement necessary for higher general education.
Addressing financial shortfalls
One major challenge to reforming these programs has been access to financing. Both technical education and general education at the secondary and university levels in developing countries has experienced a dearth in funding in recent decades, particularly given international donors’ focus on achieving universal primary education, in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals.
There is a vital need to address financial shortfalls for technical and vocational education institutions that are strong performers. Kiva Field Partner CampoAlto in Colombia is one such institution. Prior to CampoAlto’s presence in Bogota, there were few technical education options, particularly for low-income students, but CampoAlto has popularized vocational training in the city and opened up opportunities for women and individuals living below the poverty line.
At Kiva, we are working to help students who are seeking to gain job skills through a technical education, in South America, South Africa, and other parts of the world.
Rebekah Chang is an intern for Kiva’s Strategic Initiatives team, looking for new partners and loan products to extend opportunities and access to more people around the world. She replaces Ian Matthews. Rebekah has an M.A. in Development Economics and Conflict Management from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Send her your feedback on this blog series at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is part of a larger series on Kiva’s strategic initiatives and innovative loan products, which are designed to expand opportunities for more borrowers. Kiva is excited to partner with schools that provide loans to disadvantaged students all over the world.