http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRP4qIrraW46oa4crCboqTzadd3IE4yTumRAbMvuvR527xT31xml_tozi4By Barbara Ischinger Director for Education and Skills. July brought some good news and some bad news. The good news is that vocational and technical skills are flourishing and I watched young people with those skills competing to find who’s best in the world at the WorldSkills Competition held in Leipzig, Germany, earlier in the month. Over a thousand young people, representing 65 countries and regions across the world, were demonstrating their skills in everything from welding to web design. Korea topped the medal table (including gold for confectionery/pastry making with chocolate sculptures too impressive to eat) with Switzerland in second place. The level of technical expertise on show was astounding, but what impressed me more than anything was the poise and self-confidence along with the commitment to excellence and professionalism of all the competitors. And it wasn’t just for the competitors  it was a big festival of vocational skills for the general public. Anyone could try their hand at a new skill at a workbench or computer while young people could also seek advice on their choice of job and planning their career.
Now the bad news: OECD announced last week that unemployment in OECD countries is expected to  remain high throughout 2014, with young people and the low-skilled hit hardest . Unemployment can have long-lasting repercussions on young people.  Even when they do eventually get a job, they are likely to face an ongoing penalty in the labour market, earning significantly reduced wages over the course of their lifetime. And the psychological impacts can also be long lasting, as young people become discouraged, de-motivated and worried about their prospects for attaining economic independence in the future. And yet…in many OECD countries, there are thousands of jobs that remain unfilled, often requiring technical and vocational skills or providing the opportunity to learn them. Read more...