Inequalities in Global Labor Market-Where Will College-Educated Talent Come From?

Interesting report from McKinsey Global Institute is cited in this Economist essay:

Despite great efforts to improve schools and universities, workers in the emerging world are less educated than those elsewhere. Some 35% in China and a stunning 70% in India have no more than a primary education. Yet this will change: China and India, McKinsey predicts, will be the world’s main source for skilled workers over the next two decades. The two countries alone will add 184m college graduates to the global labour market. As a result, the centre of gravity of human capital and innovation is likely to shift towards Asia.

Given the tremendous rise in the of students from China & India now studying the U.S., it’s a safe assumption that our educational resources will be responsible for supplying talent to these two nations – and to other nations in need of skilled workers – for years to come.

McKinsey estimates that over the next decade rich countries and China will need 40m more college-educated workers than they will be able to produce. At the same time, employers across the world may find themselves with 90m more low-skilled workers than they need. This glut will drag down wages, worsening inequality.

What does this mean for the international education community?  For one thing, it seems to me these trends point to the urgent need for rapid improvement of education systems in the developing world – and in particular, for China and India to widen access to quality education in their systems. I am aware that both countries are devoting more resources to this end; however, until and unless they succeed, it means that education systems in the developed world will remain a magnet for international students from the developing world, and in particular, for China and India, well into the future.

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