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Education to employment: designing a system that works

Blondie Chabani

In 2012 the international consultant company McKinsey investigated the twin problem of high levels of unemployment and skills shortages.

The study examined over one hundred innovative interventions in 25 countries on how young people could move successfully from education to employment.

In order to address the problem of high levels of youth unemployment, the study suggests that skills development and job creation remain two fundamentals that need to be in place. It further recommends three interventions which countries can adopt to improve the movement of students from education to employment:

  1. Enrolment and completion:  this involves getting students across the finishing line: by strong community-based and personalised support, large-scale monitoring and systematic support, and making education affordable.

  2. Building skills: this involves designing an effective curriculum, through intensive collaboration between industry and providers to define competencies at a detailed level. Employers and providers work together to deliver content in a way that ensures that students are learning the right skills by placing students in internship or apprenticeship opportunities to acquire hands on experience on the job.

  3. Finding a job: have employers engage much earlier in the education-to-employment journey by pre-hiring youth, and influencing and sponsoring their training so as to ensure that young employees are better fitted for the work situation by the time they are hired.

The report observes that a lack of hard data makes it difficult to understand which skills are required for employment, the most promising practices that train youth to become productive citizens and employees and how to identify programmes that do this best.

Mona Mourshed, Diana Farrell and Dominic Barton, Education to Employment: Designing a System that Works. McKinsey & Company, accessed at

Blondie Chabani is an Assistant Director at DHET, email:


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