Improve education to boost global economy

Despite progress made in educational systems in recent decades, over 100 million children are not enrolled in primary or lower-secondary school, and many of those who do attend lack basic reading and writing skills, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). Meanwhile, many countries face high unemployment rates, while regions like Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia  have high underemployment rates. In some parts of the world, employers say they cannot fill jobs because job seekers lack required skills.

To help nations improve how they educate and train people of all ages to be productive workers, the WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Education & Skills, chaired by David Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), released the e-book “Education & Skills 2.0: New Targets & Innovative Approaches,” on January 22, 2014 at the WEF Annual Meeting 2014 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Topics addressed in the book range from the importance of early childhood education, secondary education, and online education to the economic benefits of investing in girls and women, enhancing youth employment, and tapping the full potential of mature workers. Education and economic challenges in Africa, Pakistan, and Japan also are discussed.

“The world can do a much better job of equipping people of all ages with the skills needed to satisfy tomorrow’s needs, not yesterday’s,” said Bloom, a co-editor and one of the authors of the book, in a press release. “This book sets forth concrete ideas for education-and skill-based solutions to problems like poverty, illiteracy, and inequity, which impinge so heavily, widely, and needlessly on human progress. It opens our minds to the transformative potential of a judicious blend of financial muscle, political will, common sense, and new thinking, institutions, and technology.”

Other authors from HSPH who contributed to the book include HSPH master’s student Lauren Graybill; Salal Humair, research scientist in the HSPH Department of Global Health and Population; and Lawrence Rosenberg, who recently retired from a position as senior research associate in the Department of Global Health and Population.

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