Education investment needed for a skilled workforce

By The Editorial Board 31 January 2024, 10:00AM

Just a little over a year ago, the Samoa Bureau of Statistics compiled its figures and the 2022 Statistical Abstract was released last week. It presented figures that show that a little over half of the people employed in Samoa have attained only primary school-level education.

At the end of 2022, the nation’s labour force stood at 55,960 people in employment with 23,1666 just being able to complete primary school.

The figures are the latest data painting a picture of Samoa with numbers. The thing with numbers is that they do not lie.

The majority of the labour force was found in the 25–29-year-old age group representing 12.7 per cent of the total labour force, as this is the age when adults are starting to enter the labour force looking for employment.

23,166 respondents or 41.4 per cent of the labour force indicated that they had primary school level as their highest completed level of education of which 71.1 per cent are males. About 1,700 respondents or 3.0 per cent reported ECE as their highest completed level of education of which 82.6 percent are males.

This is one of the key reasons why there needs to be an investment into education and this includes free education until Year 12, one teacher in every classroom or one teacher per subject, schools which promote learning and above all access to education for all.

The district grants are there, use it to pay school fees for those families who earn below a certain threshold so they do not have to force their children out of school and they too do not become part of an unskilled labour force.

Education not only serves as a foundation for personal growth but also plays a pivotal role in shaping the economy of a nation. The investment made in education and skills development yields substantial economic advantages, both at an individual and societal level.

Education acts as a catalyst for economic development by enhancing the human capital of a nation. When individuals acquire knowledge and skills through formal education, they become better equipped to contribute to the economy in multiple ways. Here are some key takeaways:

Studies consistently show that individuals with higher levels of education tend to earn more compared to their less-educated counterparts. For instance, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that individuals with a bachelor's degree earn approximately 60 per cent more on average than those with only a high school diploma.

Education equips individuals with the knowledge and skills demanded by the job market. As a result, educated individuals are more likely to secure stable employment and experience lower rates of unemployment.

Education acts as a buffer during economic downturns. Research indicates that individuals with higher levels of education are more likely to weather economic crises, such as recessions, with greater resilience. They possess transferable skills that make it easier for them to adapt to changing economic circumstances.

While education plays a fundamental role, the importance of continuous skills development cannot be overstated. Rapid advancements in technology and changing labor market demands necessitate individuals to continuously update their skill sets. Let's explore the advantages of skills development:

By acquiring new skills, individuals increase their chances of finding employment or being promoted within their current job. Developing in-demand skills, such as coding, data analysis, or digital marketing, can significantly enhance employability and open up diverse career opportunities.

Skills development enables individuals to start their businesses and contribute to job creation. As per statistics from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, countries with a higher prevalence of entrepreneurial initiatives have been shown to experience greater economic growth.

Skills development is crucial for industries to remain competitive in the global market. By fostering the growth of a skilled workforce, industries become more efficient, innovative, and adaptable. This leads to increased productivity and improved economic performance.

Besides the individual benefits, education and skills development also have significant societal impact. They contribute to the overall growth and development of a nation, creating a more prosperous and inclusive society.

Education and skills development empower individuals to escape the poverty cycle. According to UNESCO, each additional year of schooling can increase an individual's income by 10 per cent. This has a direct positive impact on poverty reduction efforts.

Education fosters greater social cohesion by providing opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds to interact and learn together. It promotes understanding, cooperation, and a sense of shared identity, which are vital for a harmonious society.

Advancements in education and skills contribute to technological progress, which drives economic growth. Skilled individuals are more likely to innovate and generate new ideas, leading to the development of groundbreaking technologies.

Education and skills development offers numerous economic advantages, ranging from higher earning potential to enhanced employability and industry competitiveness. Investing in education not only benefits individuals but also society as a whole.

By prioritising education and continuous skills development, the nation can unleash the full potential of its human capital, leading to sustainable economic growth and development.

By The Editorial Board 31 January 2024, 10:00AM
Samoa Observer

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