Lack of Skilled Workers in Vietnam
In Vietnam, skilled laborers are a commodity. Only 12% of Vietnam’s 57 million workers are highly skilled. The Vietnamese Government decided to enter into a socialist market economy in the late 1980s. It aimed to mitigate the sluggish economy’s failure to meet goals. Still, there is a lack of skilled workers in Vietnam specializing in IT and other high-tech sectors to allow the economy to flourish. However, the World Bank drafted a new higher education plan in April 2020. The Higher Education Reform Agenda (HERA) sought to stimulate development in areas that Vietnam’s former education plan missed.

Lack of Skilled Workers in Developing Countries

The lack of skilled workers in Vietnam is not a new problem. One-third of the working-aged population in low- and middle-income countries are not skilled enough for a higher paying job. The lack of skilled workers keeps these countries stuck in poverty with people earning less income and enduring poorer living conditions. Vietnam was once one of the poorest countries in the world after recovering from 30 years of war. It is now a lower-middle-income country despite having a higher education enrollment rate lower than most other ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries.

Vietnam’s Growing Economy

Vietnam’s GDP has been growing steadily, increasing by 7% in 2019. Furthermore, Vietnam is soon to be one of the fastest-growing economies alongside India and Bangladesh. In Vietnam’s race for growth between 2002 and 2018, the country’s GDP per capita increased by 2.7 times, surpassing $2,700 in 2019 and 45 million people left poverty. Vietnam has been encountering major successes that promise better living conditions in the future. Still, the country has work to do. The lack of skilled workers in Vietnam remains dire. With the proper education and training, people can benefit from more employment opportunities, higher incomes and improved standards of living.

HERA Takes a Step Toward Improvements

Acknowledging Vietnam’s need for an economic boost, the Vietnamese Government drafted the Higher Education Reform Agenda (HERA) in 2005. According to the HERA, the country would improve higher education between the years 2006 and 2020. The HERA projected goals that included hitting 45% higher education enrollments by 2020, employing 35% of academic staff with a doctorate degree in comparison to 15% and providing funding for university research.

Though experts in education and economics deemed the HERA overly ambitious and without structure, it had some success. The World Bank observed mostly substantial improvement in higher education by 2015. For example, in 2005, HERA sought to hire 60% of tertiary education teachers holding a master’s degree and 35% of teachers with a doctorate. Although the number of teachers with a doctorate had barely increased from 23%, 59% of tertiary teachers had a master’s degree by 2016.

Strategy to Improve Higher Education

In April 2020, the World Bank created a report outlining specific goals to increase Vietnam’s universities’ production of human capital. The report, entitled “Improving the Performance of Higher Education in Vietnam,” drew up specific goals for Vietnam’s universities to reach by 2030 using success stories like the state of California, the U.K. and South Korea. With implementation, the report will create a universal focus across bank and government entities to improve funding, enrollment and equity.

The plans involve increasing the number of applicants, improving the curriculum, creating structured application processes to accept more talented students, funding research more and being more inclusive towards ethnic minorities and lower-income Vietnamese students. The report addresses establishing links with industries and the private sector earlier on in students’ higher education. This would occur by providing internships and partnerships between students and companies to ensure relevant, proficient skilled work results.

The government still has a lot of work to do regarding the lack of skilled workers in Vietnam. Fortunately, plans are underway to invest in greater human capital. With better coordination between its market, government and educational forces, Vietnam will soon effectively produce workers qualified enough to boost the economy.

Alyssa Ranola
Flickr

Taco Bell is Helping India
Taco Bell Corp. has made India its largest international market. Yum! Brands, Inc., is a U.S.-based quick service restaurant (QSR) corporation that owns and operates the widely recognized Taco Bell brand. Few QSRs have attempted to infiltrate the market of the most vegetarian country in the world, but India’s young and growing middle-class make it the perfect untapped market for this Mexican-style cuisine. Taco Bell hopes to further drive forward India’s already rapidly growing economy with the promise to open 600 restaurants in the next 10 years. Here is some information about how Taco Bell is helping India by increasing employment opportunities.

An American-Born Brand Hands India the Reins

Taco Bell has named Burman Hospitality Private Limited (BHPL) of India as its exclusive Master Franchise Partner, giving it control of the entire Indian territory. While Taco Bell was already a successful and recognizable brand, it needed the help of an Indian company to get the concept ready to launch. Imagine a trendy, industrial-looking space, where the walls are decorated in graffiti that reads, “Nachos” and “Quesadillas” but written in the Hindi language.

There is the option for table service, a menu for alcoholic drinks and possibly even a DJ playing music; this is an example of the marriage of the Western and Indian brand and how it has evolved. The menu is now entirely free of beef. It includes a variety of vegetarian options and is affordable to its target market of young, up-and-coming adults. Menu items start at 18 Indian rupees or approximately 40 American cents. Former President and CEO of Yum! Restaurants International, Graham Allen said, “You have a young population with improving standards of living and an enthusiasm to embrace Western brands.”

Employment Opportunities and Training

India’s economy will add more than 20,000 jobs over the course of the 600 new restaurant openings. Through partnerships with vendors and supply chains, Taco Bell is helping India through the creation of additional job opportunities. Taco Bell refers to front-of-house and back-of-house employees as “team members” and “champions.” The staff complete intensive training to hone their people skills and learn excellent customer service. Employees looking to climb the ranks and further their careers can opt to take part in paid training programs. Paid time off, health care benefits and aid with financial planning are also options.

Developing Business Pushes Economic Growth

Taco Bell India sets its sights on rapid expansion, on track to open a new restaurant every 10 days until 2029. It is already in several major cities, often in areas like malls, that draw India’s booming young population. The extent to which the growth of the Taco Bell chain will help India’s economy is promising but depends on how the poor are able to share in the growth process. If hired, Taco Bell is helping India by allowing new recruits to learn better communication skills, receive a uniform and one complimentary meal per shift. These are major perks for a poor individual. The low price point coupled with the adventure of trying something new and “exotic” is appealing for all patrons.

– Sarah Ottosen
Photo: Flickr

Private Sector JobsThe private sector makes up nine out of 10 jobs in the global market and with about 735 million people living at or below the extreme poverty line, it is essential that this vulnerable population has access to private sector jobs. The private sector, also known as the citizen sector, is owned by private corporations rather than the government and companies all around the world make up the majority of the economy with private sector jobs. Companies within the private sector can greatly benefit from providing people living in poverty with jobs as an investment that will lead to global poverty reduction.

The Role of the Private Sector in Poverty Reduction

It is crucial that the private sector takes responsibility for providing jobs, even in situations that require extensive training and infrastructure, as an investment in people living in poverty will lead to competition within the market as well as exponential growth within the company. The Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC) created a toolkit to provide private sector companies with the skills and knowledge necessary to reduce poverty through employment. This toolkit outlines the benefits of workplace inclusion for people living in extreme poverty, not only from an economic standpoint but as a social responsibility as well. Outlined in the toolkit is the importance of networking and creating opportunities for people to fight poverty.

Microlending as a Poverty Reduction Tool

The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) prioritizes microlending from the private sector as a source of poverty alleviation. Microlending is the act of loaning out very small amounts of money to self-employed individuals living in developing countries by banks and institutions. The FEE highlights a famous example of this, Grameen Bank, founded by Muhammed Yunus in Bangladesh in 1983. The Grameen Bank makes loans of $30 to $200 per person and has been able to reach millions, majority of whom are females who use the money to buy supplies in order to make and distribute their products. This is just one example of private sector work being done to connect people with limited access to resources to the job market and create opportunities.

Social Impact Matters

Traditionally, poverty has been a focus of governments rather than private companies and institutions, however, recently, partnerships between these two have been sought as the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals are focused on poverty alleviation. These partnerships between governments and private organizations are focused in areas of development, education, health, agriculture and climate change, all of which prioritize private sector jobs to fight poverty. One motivation for the private sector to participate in expanding its labor force to vulnerable communities is that of reducing reputational risks and beneficial brand awareness. PYXERA Global looks into the opportunities provided by public-private partnerships through the lens of economic development and explains that customers are now more than ever likely to consider the social impact of a specific company when it comes to purchasing products.

Social Responsibilities of the Private Sector

In order for private sector jobs to fight poverty, it is essential that organizations and corporations take social responsibility to invest in vulnerable populations that will lead to long-term positive impacts for the global economy. Strategies to employ impoverished communities in the private sector workforce have already been put in place and will continue to be essential in both alleviating poverty and expanding the global economy.

– Caroline Pierce
Photo: Flickr

Disability in Palestine
Palestine has one of the highest poverty rates in the world. The country has endured decades of political and violent conflict with Israel. Palestinians must also battle increasing unemployment as well as a lack of resources. These factors are particularly detrimental for Palestinians with disabilities. Disability in Palestine is an ongoing issue, and poverty influences it further.

The Challenge of Disability

Over 15% of the world’s population suffers from some form of disability. These range from impairment in vision, hearing, and mobility to trouble with memory and communication. However, developing countries are more vulnerable to disabilities due to their limited access to health care, education, water, sanitation, and electricity.

The World Health Organization estimates that one billion people worldwide live with disability or impairment. About 130,000 of these individuals live in Palestine. Of the 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA within Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria, 795,000 of them have a disability. In Occupied Palestine, 31.2% of elderly Palestinian have one or more kinds of disability. Additionally, more males suffer from disabilities than females, and about 20% of individuals with a disability in Palestine are under 18 years old.

Much of the disability in Palestine is a result of limited resources and an increase in violence. Insufficient prenatal and postnatal care, malnutrition, and inadequate medical services all contribute to prolonged disability and impairment. This lack of proper and adequate services is a result of the Israeli blockade and occupation, which prevents Palestinians from accessing goods and services.

The increase in violence also has a direct effect on the number of disabled individuals. There have been recent waves of violence and aggression in Palestine in 2009, 2012, and 2014. As a result, large numbers of Palestinians have been serious injuries. Out of the 11,231 Palestinians affected by these outbursts of violence, 10% experienced injuries that resulted in life-long disabilities.

The Effects of Disability

Disability can dramatically affect the livelihood of afflicted individuals. The education and health care systems are largely operated by UNRWA and USAID related programs through humanitarian assistance and funds. UNRWA has developed Disability Inclusion Programs, but very few of these initiatives focus on individuals with disabilities or increasing access to necessary services. In 2011, 42.2% of Palestinians with disabilities in Gaza and 35.5% in the West Bank never enrolled in school. Further, 27.1% of Palestinians with disabilities dropped out of school and 56.3% were illiterate.

Acquiring access to health care and rehabilitation is very difficult, especially in Gaza due to restricted movement and blockades. The same is true for access to medicine, supplies, and staffing. Having a disability, without the proper resources to acquire treatment, education, or income, can greatly increase the risk of poverty for an individual and their family. If an individual with a disability is already below the poverty line, their chances of escaping poverty are greatly reduced.

Having a disability in Palestine also hinders employment. The poverty rate in Palestine is 25%, and unemployment reached about 29% across the board. Over 90% of individuals with disabilities in Gaza don’t have employment. This is mostly because of the lack of accessible infrastructure, transport, toilets, and assistive devices and services in these workplaces. The presence of disability, especially an insufficiently treated disability, prevents individuals from completing education and finding employment, which lends itself to poverty.

Wrap Up

Disability is a challenge in every country. Palestine in particular is not unfamiliar with the hurdles facing individuals with disabilities. From the lack of adequate health care services to the lack of education and employment accessibility, individuals with a disability in Palestine are continuously vulnerable. Employers, educators, governmental organizations. and NGOs should work together to create a much more inclusive environment. There needs to be improvements in infrastructure and providing more resources and accessibility for Palestinians with disabilities.

Nada Abuasi
Photo: Flickr

Manufacturing in Ethiopia
Ethiopia has cultivated a substantial amount of progress in transforming its economy in the last decade due to a sharp focus on government policies and development strategies to advance its budding manufacturing industry. The country is experiencing a thriving working-age population (workers aged 15 to 29) and a large portion of these eager workers are women.

As the country’s priorities shift from agriculture to industry as its most dominant source of employment and profit, the role of women and manufacturing has become fundamental to actualizing Ethiopia’s goal of being a middle-income country by 2025.

About 80-90% of jobs created in manufacturing have gone to women, and as much of a progressive hurdle that is for Ethiopia’s labor force, there is still much work that needs to occur to make the manufacturing industry all-inclusive. Addressing these issues is crucial to achieving sustainable growth and transformation in Ethiopia, and government leaders are beginning to recognize faults and mobilize towards ensuring the representation of women in the workplace.

The Role of Women in an Expanding Industry

On average, around 62% of women have migrated from rural regions to work in the manufacturing industry. With women being the core reason why industrialization in Ethiopia has boosted the economy, there comes a question as to why women are dominating the scene in jobs such as agro-processing, textile and apparel, and leather goods sub-sectors. An improving economy is a relevant reason why women are seeking more work, but another factor is that the majority of women working in the industry have less education, are younger and are working with lower pay than men. This widens the faction of who can work and is a cheaper asset for industries. Companies also tend to prefer women over men because they perceive them as more quality-oriented, dependable, committed, stable and obedient to leadership.

For 89% of women, these industry jobs provide them a steady income for the first time in their lives. A reported 78% said that their income has improved, and 63% stated that their family’s standard of living has also improved since working in the manufacturing industry. As positive as this sounds, there is data that contradicts these points. On average, about 40% of worker’s wages earned goes to housing payments, and data has shown that earnings are barely covering basic living costs.

Continual Challenges Women Endure at Work

The Ethiopian Constitution (1995), Labor Proclamation No.377 (2003) and other laws have provided protections to female workers’ equal rights. However, the lack of enforcement of these laws has shown to delay any real progress.

In the manufacturing workplace, women are experiencing discrimination and harassment as well as oppressive risks when traveling to and from work. A United Stated Development Programme (UNDP) report stated that women are only earning 77% of what men make even with proper education and experience. Opportunities to make more in wages have proven to be scarce due to gender-segregation in the Ethiopian industry. This stems from a gross misconception that women are incapable of working high-level positions, resulting in women having a much harder time achieving leadership positions— with 60% of women in the garment production cutting stage, 95% in the sewing stage and only 15% in the finishing stages.

If women do reach managerial or ownership positions, they frequently face restrictions on resources, markets, materials and general information that is critical for a profitable business.

Breaking Barriers to Manifest an Economic Dream

Women and manufacturing in Ethiopia are two dynamic elements that have the potential to generate a level of economic prosperity that Ethiopia has been dreaming of. But in order to fulfill these goals, major improvements need to occur on the ground level as well as the policy level to make labor in the industry more gender-inclusive. The Government of Ethiopia, in cooperation with development partners, has already launched proposals that target the standing issues.

For instance, the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) has worked in partnership with the Department for International Development’s (DFID) Enterprise Partners Programme in establishing and delivering gender relations training packages for women workers and their— often male— managers in the industry. The training for women focuses on reproductive health, personal and menstrual hygiene, nutrition, sexual harassment, communications skills and confidence-building.

The Ministry of Industry (MoI) is also contributing to strategies and objectives for women and manufacturing in Ethiopia by setting up a gender coordination unit at each industrial park, especially at factories with over 1,000 women workers. A 30% minimum quota is also in development for women in leadership and high-skill job employment that focuses on recruitment and promotions with annual rewards to those that perform best.

Visualizing an End to a Misogynistic System

The recognition of a woman’s value in the workplace is emanant, especially the role of women and manufacturing in Ethiopia. Although there is still much that Ethiopia needs to do, the country has already taken big strides in ensuring women receive representation and equal treatment. On a political level, Prime Minister Abiy has appointed more women leaders in government, giving them as equal an opportunity as men. If businesses follow by example, Ethiopia will acquire an economic transformation that could inspire other countries to do the same.

– Alyssa McGrail
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Eradication in Tanzania
Poverty eradication in Tanzania has seen success with the country’s poverty rate falling from 34.4% in 2007 to 26.4% in 2018. The country requires more renewable energies including solar, biomass, hydro and wind in order to create jobs and lower unemployment. Agriculture is the main part of Tanzania’s economy today and is a significant consideration when thinking about renewable energies. Here is some information about poverty eradication in Tanzania.

Poverty in Tanzania

The 2019 Tanzania Mainland Poverty Assessment of overall poverty eradication efforts in Tanzania shows that the country has made steady gains in lowering the overall poverty rates between 2011 and the present. In fact, poverty decreased by 8% in 10 years, down from 34.4% in 2007 to 26.4% in 2018. Most of the reduction in poverty was in rural areas and outside urban Dar es Salaam. However, the eradication of poverty in Tanzania has slowed down since 2012. For example, the economic growth on poverty reduction went from a 1% decline annually to 0.3% yearly since 2012-18. As a result, for every four Tanzanians who rose above poverty levels, three more Tanzanians fell into poverty. One reason for this is that families have a large number of dependents and less access to resources that would assist with basic needs, limiting their ability to access employment.

Poverty eradication in Tanzania has been successful based on the measures to eradicate poverty. For example, many in the country are using solar power now. While poverty and living conditions, in general, have experienced steady improvement, only 29% of Tanzania has access to electricity with 10% going to rural Tanzania and only 7% going to poorer families.

Facts About Energy and Energy Poverty in Tanzania

  1. Tanzania’s Energy: Tanzania generates its energy mostly from natural gas (48%), hydro (31%), petrol (18%), biofuels (1%) and solar (1%). Solar implementation would be beneficial to Tanzania region-wide, considering that its current sunshine hours range between 2,800 and 3,500 per year. The global radiation is 4-7kWh per m2 per day.
  2. Untapped Renewable Energy Sources: Tanzania still has a vast amount of untapped renewable energy sources that include biomass, hydropower and wind sources, as well as ample sunlight. Some of the country’s efforts to implement the use of solar power has been paying off greatly. For example, in rural areas, people are using 33% solar energy in contrast to urban areas that are only using 14% solar power. Meanwhile, the World Bank stated that “Despite some improvements, about 45 percent of households still rely on such inefficient lighting sources as torches and kerosene. Tanzania energy situation – Solar efficient energy sources for cooking has also improved slightly, but over 80 percent of all households, and more than 90 percent of rural and poor households, continue to rely on firewood and charcoal.”
  3. Biomass, Hydro and Wind: Biomass challenges facing the population include limited technical knowledge, lack of financial facilities for investment purposes into renewable energy and limited knowledge of the population’s different energy options to calculate cycle cost and make the best use of biomass renewable energy. Hydro is also a highly dependable source of renewable energy for Tanzanians, however, there is an area for growth and opportunity to utilize a different renewable source such as wind power. If, for example, the country does not have much rain, it might choose to depend on another source for energy, such as wind, although wind power has been slow to evolve.

Amplifying Employment Through Agriculture

A World Bank article looked at how Tanzania has reduced poverty and improved its economy over the last decade. However, it also uncovered that a large number of the population is still at risk of falling into poverty. Without sufficient job growth, the Tanzanian population, which is only growing larger, could experience trouble. The unemployment rate went down to 9.7% in 2020, showing considerable improvement in comparison to the unemployment rate of 10.3% in 2014. Urban areas show less stability regarding consumption inequality and inequality opportunities than rural areas. The need for increased education and general awareness to the entire population is why it is prudent to understand the renewable energy options available and get the population of Tanzania up to speed on the technology available to them, along with real resources.

The Tanzanian government’s Tanzania Development Vision 2025 and the Five-Year Development Plan (FYDP II) aim to eliminate poverty and sustainably industrialize with the goal of Tanzania becoming a middle-income country by 2025. As a result, the Tanzanian government is turning its attention to agriculture in order to increase the country’s socio-economic development, as outlined in the Second Agriculture Sector Development Program (ASDP II). Some of ASDP II’s goals are to increase commercialization, prioritize commodity value chains and mobilize capital by giving the formal private sector a growing role in agriculture. Agriculture drives about two-thirds of jobs in Tanzania and three-quarters for those in poverty meaning that the improvement of the sector is necessary to the creation of more and higher-quality jobs in order to reduce poverty.

Agriculture is and has been one of the mainstays economically. It also accounts for about a quarter of Tanzania’s GDP and makes up two-thirds of the jobs. It is prudent that Tanzania takes enhanced measures to improve the strategy and ensure the creation of more jobs according to The World Bank. Plenty of room exists for innovation and increased job creation to meet the acceleration of population growth. The focus goes back to the need to help Tanzanians understand and gain awareness of how to implement “commercialization, prioritizing high-potential commodity value chains, and mobilizing capital by giving the formal private sector a growing role in agriculture.”

Looking Ahead

As the world progresses globally in technology and trade, the question becomes, will the Tanzania population keep up? Many in rural areas still have employment in agriculture. Agriculture employment opportunities will continue to exist, but with more advanced equipment, thereby, creating more production opportunities to increase employment opportunities.

– Kathleen M. Hellem
Photo: Pixabay

Gen Z Activism Generation Z, born between the mid to late 90s and 2010, has proven to be highly outspoken and diverse. Succeeding the Millenials, this group is at the front lines of activism advocating for key issues including equality, global health, and mental awareness. Listed below are three ways Gen Z activism is changing the world.

Period Poverty

Periods can be uncomfortable to talk about, but they are a daily occurrence for women all over the world. Furthermore, many women are unable to access period products; homeless and disabled women, in particular, are often unable to get menstrual products. This sheds a light on a broader issue: according to UNICEF, 2.3 billion people live without access to basic sanitation services. In developing countries, only 27% of people have adequate hand washing facilities at home. This makes a period even more challenging to maintain safely.

Period products can be inaccessible for a variety of reasons. For example, the ‘Pink Tax’, an additional charge for women’s goods, provides a significant obstacle to obtaining period products. This might be exemplified by two toys, identical in every way except for their color. If the toy with the more traditionally feminine color is more expensive, this additional amount is called the “Pink Tax.” Unfortunately, many period products are needlessly expensive. According to UNICEF, many Bangladeshis families cannot afford products and use old clothing. In India, only 12% of menstruators have access to sanitary products, leaving many to use unsafe materials like rags or sawdust.

The non-profit youth powered organization, Period, exemplifies one way Gen Z activism is changing the world. Period has been able to set up chapters in 30 countries, push public schools to provide free menstrual products and expose unfair state taxes. Additionally, Period has donated products to prisons, shelters, and schools.

Global Health

Generation Z is going to make up about 20% of the world’s workforce by 2020. The use of technology is more prominent with each coming year; a trend that will likely continue as Generation Z enters the workforce. Technology is here to assist the healthcare industry. Convenience is the word of the new generation and the theme of the future healthcare industry. For example, this means more efficient and more accessible diagnoses and treatments. The use of technology has given doctors the ability to classify more illnesses and have more avenues for research.

Health information technology provides a bridge between the developing and the developed world. Health IT makes it possible to diagnose, treat, and inform people in rural and impoverished areas. SMS text messages can provide reminders for self-examinations and prevention; people are able to receive health information via SMS messages as long as they have a signal.

Employment

This new generation is also entering the workforce with new expectations. Generation Z activists are calling for a diverse and inclusive work environment. Generation Z is not loyal to any brand or store, more importantly, they shop for what is affordable and most impactful to communities or countries. Gen Z looks to serve, share, and impact others than serve themselves. This gives them the power to shape the success or downfall of businesses and drive corporate change.

Gen Z will be the biggest consumer segment worldwide until 2030. Therefore, companies will attract employees by improving their social, environmental, and economic standings. H&M, the Swedish fast-fashion house has launched a new website tool that lists details of their products’ suppliers and their factories. McDonalds has also committed to cage-free eggs and more vegan menu items on its global menus. These simple changes show what Gen Z is doing in the workforce and what more is still to come.

Gen Z is changing the way the world, shops, votes, works, and plays. The world is evolving rapidly and Gen Z is ready for all it has to offer. Right at the front lines, Gen Z activism is making progress towards the future.

Sienna Bahr
Photo: Flickr

Dalit Poverty
The Indian caste system is a hierarchical social system that Hindu Indians are born into. India adopted the caste system over 3,000 years ago. The system consists of four main categories including Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. Meanwhile, each group possesses hundreds of castes and subcastes. The Brahmins are at the top of the caste system and consist of intellectuals and teachers. The warrior and ruler class, the Kshatriyas, are next in the hierarchy. Below the Kshatriyas are the Vaishyas who are traders. Lastly, the Shudras are at the bottom of the caste system. These people do unfavorable jobs. However, a group exists outside the caste system that is below the rank of Shudras. These people are known as Dalits or the untouchables. Here is some information about Dalit poverty in India.

The Dalits

While the government officially banned the caste system in India in 1950, its remnants still remain socially. To this day, the caste in which one is born determines their social status, job and marriage under unofficial social guidelines that Hindu Indians follow. Dalits still experience segregation from other castes in many aspects of society including education, healthcare and worship.

Dalits are severely disadvantaged when it comes to education. In fact, only 10-20% of Dalits can read or write and only 2-3% of Dalit women are literate. With over 50% of the general Indian population being illiterate, the education disparity between Dalits and other castes is apparent. Dalit children especially struggle with inequality when it comes to their education. Segregated from the rest of the classroom, other students often bully or ridicule Dalit students because of their caste. Female Dalit students must also perform certain tasks around the school that other students do not have to do like cleaning the bathroom for instance.

Poverty disproportionately affects the Dalits, or untouchables, in comparison to the other castes even though India has disbanded the caste system. About half of the Dalit caste are living in poverty and 60% of Dalit children are chronically malnourished. Most of the Dalit caste work in low-paying jobs that other castes do not look highly upon. Since their jobs do not receive respect, employers underpay the Dalits for the work they do, thus causing the high poverty rate.

Violence, Poverty and COVID-19

Hate crime and violence against Dalit women is very high in contrast to violence towards women of other castes. A woman suffers rape in India every 20 minutes and a large majority of these cases are against Dalit women. In India, people often see Dalit women as inferior and weak in comparison to women of other castes. As a result, men of other castes who see Dalit women as inferior specifically target these women for these violent crimes.

Recently, the women of the Dalit community have been the victims of a surge of rape and murder in India. Authorities make little to no arrests regarding crimes against the Dalit people and the government has not addressed or made any attempts to help end this crisis of violence.

The untouchables are struggling with poverty and inequality, especially in the wake of COVID-19. The untouchables must perform certain jobs that put them at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. Also, the untouchables have very little access to protective equipment while performing these high-risk jobs. The Dalits live on the outskirts of villages where they have limited access to healthcare resources, making the untouchables more likely to have complications or die from COVID-19.

The Dalit Foundation

Many NGOs are attempting to help the discrimination and poverty-stricken Dalit caste including the Dalit Foundation. Established in 2003, the Dalit Foundation’s main objective is to secure equality for the Dalit caste. The Dalit Foundation provides education, scholarships and empowerment to members of the Dalit caste. This foundation, among many others, strives to help end this discrimination against Dalits until the Indian government can provide equal rights for their Dalit community.

The enforcement and security of equal rights of all Indian citizens are crucial to helping the Dalits end their oppression and poverty. The Indian government has yet to enforce equal rights for the Dalits so they continue to experience violence and segregation. Once the Indian government protects the Dalit people, gives them equal rights and ends segregation, Dalit poverty should reduce and the Dalit people should be able to receive equal pay, work in jobs they desire, marry outside their caste and get a quality education.

– Hannah Drzewiecki
Photo: Flickr

Skills Training for African Youth
Africa is no stranger to the challenges of an underdeveloped workforce. Africa has a history of economic crisis paired with harsh conditions to yield ample commodities. The trend for unemployment in Africa’s younger generations is trending upward. The rate at which African youths enroll in job-specific training is also rising slightly. As of 2012, 20.4% of young African students had enrollment in training that would benefit them in the workforce. Projections have determined that this number will be approximately 20.8% in 2021; a small but encouraging increase. Here is additional information about employment in Africa and how some are providing skills training to African youth.

The Situation

Unfortunately for young African women in job training, the numbers have dropped from 26.3% in 2012 to 25.8% in 2020. Cultural belief systems continue to be a barrier for young women in Africa entering the workforce.

Since 2012, the youth unemployment rate has declined from 11.8% in 2012 to 11% in 2020, and expectations have determined that it will remain at 11% in 2021. While Africa’s youth unemployment rate is lower than the global average, this is not a good indicator of economic success and a great need exists for skills training in Africa. About 37.6% of Africans in the workforce are living in extreme poverty and earning less than $1.90 USD per day which exceeds the global average of 35.4% in 2020. Research shows that the poverty rates link to the quality of work available in Africa.

Africa comprises 54 countries and is home to 1.2 billion people. Many industries exist that hold the promise of growth for the younger generation in Africa if they receive the proper skills training. Many of the jobs in Africa relate to farming. Projections state that Africa’s agricultural business will grow to $1 trillion USD in the next 10 years. About 50% of all of Africa’s usable farmland has not undergone cultivation yet. With the expansion of agriculture comes the need for jobs in advisory positions, veterinary medicine, management and more. Additionally, a greater need for professional services such as banks, communication companies, construction and technology will emerge.

Currently, African youth earn less than $150 USD per month on average. This statistic is true for youths who have been out of school for as long as five years and is largely due to a lack of skills training in Africa.

International Consultants for Education and Fairs (ICEF)

International Consultants for Education and Fairs (ICEF) recognizes the unique challenges that the younger generations in Africa face and seeks to respond by providing skills training to African youth. About 250 million youths in Africa are preparing to enter the workforce. Projections have determined that that number will rise to 321 million by 2030. Though students do graduate from secondary school, they often find themselves in what the U.S. would consider entry-level or lower careers such as driving a cab.

Even after paying university tuition while studying subjects such as math and science, youths in Africa still frequently lack the skills necessary to secure middle-class jobs. ICEF recognizes the need
for skills training in Africa to include vocational training and apprenticeships as a part of a degree program. Not only would these apprenticeships be beneficial to companies’ labor costs but they would also give students the hands-on experience they need to enter the workforce.

Beginning in 2021, ICEF will be returning to Africa virtually to help increase educational content to institutions in Africa that lack up-to-date academic plans and provide a network for educators in countries such as Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ghana.

The last event occurred in Africa in 2019 and was a success at helping those who educate Africa’s younger generation and assist with skills training. About 241 individuals residing in 43 countries participated in the event. Thirteen African markets received representation and many made connections across the international education plane to help bring skills training to Africa and help lift more people out of poverty.

Meeting the job skills training needs of young people in Africa can offer a long-term solution to some of the tragedies that young people on the continent are facing today. With the collaboration of more developed countries sharing their approach and resources, Africa can make progress by providing skills training to African youth.

– Carolyn Lancour
Photo: Flickr

The Growing Concern of Elderly Poverty in FranceSince the early 1970s, the mean standard of living for senior citizens above 65 years old in France has significantly improved. Complying with the guidelines that the second U.N. World Assembly on Aging (WAA) in 2002 and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging (MIPAA) brought up, France keeps implementing aging policies that focus on the health and well-being of elderly people, their participation and benefits in the social development and a more enabling and supportive environment. However, elderly poverty in France remains a socioeconomic issue. As of 2012, 17.5% of French people are over 65 years old, whereas working-age people between 15 and 64 take up 63.8% of the total population. A 2019 study reported that around one out of 10 elderly people in France lives in poverty, which is to say, there are now more than one million French people of old age living below the poverty threshold.

Wealthier than the Younger Population

Although elderly poverty in France is a significant issue, senior French citizens are not the most susceptible group to poverty. The elderly population is far behind young adults, females and immigrants in terms of one’s risk of poverty. The French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) reported that in 2015, elderly people over 65 years old are not only half as likely to fall into the lowest-earning 10% as their counterparts between the ages of 25 and 64, but their proportion among the lowest-earning 20% also decreases in the 21st century.

Such situations are the comprehensive outcome of more continuous career and higher wages, higher retirement pensions, mandatory supplementary schemes and so on. They also have more time and opportunity for inheritance and savings, and their forms of resources are less sensitive to economic fluctuations. As such, it is not too hard to understand why the mean standard of living for elderly people is 3% higher than that for the younger generations in France.

Health Status

Yet despite accumulated wealth, health status deteriorates remarkably with age, which may cause extra expenses that Social Security does not cover and lead to elderly poverty in France. In 2015, 43% of French people over 65 years old endured at least one long-term illness, and the percentage keeps rising over the years.

When the deterioration in health causes a partial loss of autonomy and home care is no longer suitable, the elderly people have to live in an institutional setting such as a nursing home, and this would be another large expense that many are not able or not willing to afford. Only fewer than 2% of people aged below 75 live in a nursing institution, and for those over 85 years old, the number climbs to ten times higher.

The Incoming Challenge of Population Aging

As the problem of population aging is becoming increasingly serious in Europe, it is too early for the elderly to be too optimistic. In 2012, there were 15 million French people aged over 60 years old, and this number is expected to reach 24 million in 50 years, alongside the extended life expectancy. Over the last decade, more people went into retirement, and there were 5% of elderly people aged between 65 and 74 still in employment, many of whom were part-time employees with low qualifications, shopkeepers and older farmers.

The French government has to adjust the retirement pension and health care policies to ensure the well-being of old age. So far various actions are underway, but the results are far from satisfying. For instance, a large national strike began in December 2019 to protest against President Macron’s pension system reform. The government must take into consideration the growing elderly poverty in France and actively work to alleviate poverty rates with policies and financial support.

Jingyan Zhang
Photo: Flickr