According to World Bank calculations, one third of the working age population in low- and middle-income countries lacks the basic skills required to get quality jobs. And they’re not just missing cognitive skills. A rapidly changing global economy increasingly requires workers to develop problem-solving, leadership, and technical skills.
Helping workers develop skills and maintain them makes economic sense. Unskilled workers face unemployment or must take unsteady low-wage jobs that offer little career growth. This in turns reduces labor force productivity and limits economic investment. The private sector can’t flourish when there isn’t a skilled workforce to sustain it.
Key issues for skills development include access to quality education, costs to start or continue training, and having a relevant curriculum that justifies the investment. The World Bank partners with countries, multilateral development partners, and the private sector to open up access to education, match the needs of the labor market, and teach critical skills. It provides financial and analytical assistance and engages in policy research and analysis.
Just a few of the Bank’s initiatives include: Skills Toward Employment and Productivity (STEP) Skills Measurement; Systems Approach for Better Education Results Workforce Development (SABER-WfD); Youth Training and Employment Program in the Dominican Republic; and Promoting Skills and Job Creation in East Asia and Pacific.
A major initiative the Bank has undertaken to support the skills and workforce development of its own staff, clients, and partners is the Open Learning Campus (OLC). The OLC features a comprehensive, relevant learning curriculum across all sectors and regions, with wider access and an enhanced learner experience. It offers staff, clients, and partners a chance to take charge of their own skills development and/or career growth, and in turn, better execute the policies and programs that can help others around the globe achieve their full, productive potential.