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Creating Jobs: Education's Role in Reducing Unemployment - Highlights from the Webinar

Posted By Nicole Zefran, Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nicole Zefran

Yesterday, GBSN hosted a webinar, Creating Jobs: Education’s Role in Reducing Unemployment featuring GBSN’s Nora Brown, COO, and Lisa Leander, Membership Officer. In advance of the upcoming 2013 GBSN Annual Conference in Tunisia "Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship,” Nora and Lisa discussed research on employment and education and ways that business schools can help create jobs.

As employment takes center stage on the global agenda, the international development community is asking themselves critical questions about the complexity of the current jobs crisis. Business schools play an important roll in addressing the jobs shortage, and will be key to educating young people with relevant skills for the workplace.

There are about 200 million people unemployed globally in 2013, including 12.3% of youth. There are 600 million new jobs that need to be created to keep up with population growth.

How did we get to this situation that we are facing in 2013? The world population has grown significantly in the last 100 years. One of the major challenges that we face is the high competition for jobs because there are a lot more people entering the workforce. The 2008 financial crisis just exacerbated the problem.

In addition to poor economic performance and population growth, we are also looking at a big skills mismatch. A major reason that employers don’t fill entry-level positions is skill shortages. There are jobs available, but candidates who have relevant skills are lacking.




Why does this matter? Jobs are a foundation of economic and social development, improving living standards, productivity and social cohesion. Jobs are responsible for moving people out of poverty.

Given these challenges, what is the role of education in improving unemployment? Some recent research shows a high correlation between educational attainment, employment and earnings. The more education you have, the less likely you are to be unemployed and the higher your weekly earning rate becomes.

Ironically, in low-income countries like India, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Morocco, studies show that university graduates are more likely to be unemployed than non-graduates. This raises the question: Does education really lead to employment?

Here at GBSN, we believe that when done right, education can have a big impact on employability of graduates. What does good education look like? In setting up educational programs, it is important for schools to consider what employers want: identifying the skills gap, incorporating the needs of the marketplace into the curriculum, and building a bridge between academia and employers.

One thing for business schools to think about is how educators can incorporate work experience and experiential learning into education. The World Bank looked at the success rates of different types of programs, and found that the most successful programs were those that have in-class and workplace training combined, plus other services such as mentoring and alumni support.

Looking at the role of business schools in supporting job creation from the GBSN perspective, Lisa highlighted a number of opportunities for business schools:

  • Producing curriculum that focuses on relevant skills that employers need
  • Implementing pedagogies that promote development of soft skills
  • Providing experiential learning opportunities – on the ground experience like internships and consultancies that helps build those soft skills
  • Management programs targeting various sectors
  • Partnerships with primary and secondary schools – building management education at a younger age
  • Partnerships with employers
  • Role of convener as well as offering research and policy recommendations
  • Providing greater accessibility to training through MOOCs and the use of technology

Looking at a specific example, one of GBSN’s member schools, George Washington University, has a tourism management program within their business school that works to develop the tourism industry in emerging markets. Recently they collaborated with USAID and other partners to develop a guide on how programs can incorporate youth and marginalized communities to increase employment.

Another example came from the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School. CIBER just launched a certificate program - essentials for successful cross-cultural business communication, which fits with the discussion on the need to soft skills. The program offers four 3-hour workshops on general cross-cultural communication skills. The participants undergo an assessment where they stand in terms of their communication skills and styles and how that relates to other countries. The workshops are supplemented by four webinars on specific issues in China and Brazil, the two countries that were focused on this year. The program is open to business students and professionals around the world. People need more of these soft skills to have the ability to function in diverse teams, in more globally oriented markets and corporations.

Babson College has developed three unique niche programs that are focused on youth leadership and youth entrepreneurial education.

Summer Study for high school students program – academic residential emersion program that runs for 5 weeks every summer. Students from around the world participate every summer and explore social, economic and environmental problems in the context of developing new ventures as solutions, learning how to grow commercial or social ventures, and developing tools and resources for business.

Lemonade Day is a partnership with the city of Boston and is part of a nationwide organization. Babson has connected a network of staff, students, alumni who are working with teachers and agencies in the Boston area to teach about entrepreneurship and skills to the youth in the area. It culminates in a city wide daylong event with youth-run lemonade stands throughout Boston.

Lastly, Babson developed collaboration with LeadAmerica. The program itself focuses on core issues by entrepreneurs, explores leadership and entrepreneurship as a means of value creation, and uniquely engages Babson faculty in concert with LeadAmerica faculty and staff.

IPADE supports an agricultural technical secondary school in a rural area in Mexico that suffers from economic, social and educational deficiencies. They give scholarships to students to attend this school. They do all the fundraising for all the scholarships. While IPADE doesn’t do any of the teaching, they provide the support. This example is in regard to a sector area looking at agribusiness and supporting those rural families.

GBSN is excited to continue this conversation at our annual conference, which is quickly approaching.

Watch the webinar

Download the presentation slides

View the conference agenda

For more information on the conference go to


Nicole Zefran is the Communications and Event Planning Intern at the Global Business School Network.

Tags:  Business Education  job creation  unemployment 

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