Better education means richer economies, but not more jobs: UN report

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Yambio Primary School, South Sudan. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

Rising education standards means greater productivity, but not necessarily better job prospects.

That's according to a major new report from the UN's International Labour Organization (ILO).

The new edition of its Key Indicators of the Labour Market (KILM) report also shows that middle-income countries are growing the fastest globally.

Matthew Wells has more.

A huge amount of data has been fed into the ILO report, which maps 17 key indicators in the labour market from 1980, up to the present.

This year's analysis shows that better educated workers do not automatically have a better chance of finding a job. In fact, university graduates in middle and low-income countries are less likely to find jobs, than workers with fewer qualifications, in the same countries.

Steven Kapsos, head of data analysis for the ILO unit producing the report, said the lesson for all economies was that market demands, needed to be better matched with the kind of education and training being provided.

He said that the average worker in a high-income country currently produces a remarkable 62 times the output of his or her counterpart in a low-income country, and ten times that of middle-income countries.

But when it comes to which countries are growing the fastest, the answer was clear he said:

"Middle income economies have registered the fastest productivity growth over the past 15 years, so they have been narrowing this gap with the high-income economies in terms of their levels of productivity. This has been driven in large part, but very rapid structural transformation of their economies."

While manufacturing jobs had fallen away dramatically in richer economies, "almost all of the growth" in that key industrial sector had happened in the middle, said Mr Kapsos.

This explained the growth, and also a steep drop in the so-called working-poor in middle-income economies, he added.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'28"

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