Anthony Hilton: World jobs divide puts skills at a premium

People were cheered up when the unemployment numbers came out midweek and with good reason.

The manufacturer's organisation, the EEF, pointed out, for example, that the 1.5 per cent rise in manufacturing jobs in the quarter was the biggest such increase since records began in 1978.

However, amid this mild optimism the media largely overlooked a report from the McKinsey Global Institute which looks at the challenge the whole world faces in finding work for its surging population.

Its basic thesis is that if you are well educated and skilled you will be all right, but if not, you have a problem wherever you may be.

Developing countries alone will have around 45 million too few workers with secondary education than they need. But there will be 90 million, low-skill workers across the world whom employers will not want.

The chilling part is that this is not some forecast of a world far in the future. Rather, it is predicting what the world will look like in 2020, just eight years from now.

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