Education is smart for society and smart for business. Investment in Global Education: A Strategic Imperative for Business – a report launched by GBC-Education member Accenture, the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, and GBC-Education – articulates a business case to rescue a global education system in crisis. Today, 57 million children are out of school and 250 million children are not learning. This has a critical impact on business operations.
What does the global education crisis mean for business?
The report highlights shifting demographics and migration patterns that affect education systems in emerging markets.
As workers retire in Western Europe and the US, wealthy countries will look to emerging markets to fill their vacancies. In response, firms looking for younger workers will shift operations to these markets. By 2030, emerging markets are expected to contribute 65% of the world’s GDP, compared to just 37% in 1990.
This matters to business. Here’s why:
The private sector will require a pool of employable talent in emerging markets. Research shows skills to succeed at work – like literacy, basic math, and social skills – are gained in primary and secondary school. A 2012 survey of global CEOs found that 43% of CEOs saw talent-related costs negatively affecting their firm’s profitability.
Using India as a case study, the report found that for every $1 invested in education today, the return in value to the employer is $53 at the start of employment. In India, this would mean a $100 billion dollar opportunity cost (roughly 5% of the country’s GDP) because 2/3 of children did not finish secondary school. For business, this means an economy with lower wages – and less disposable income – and limited opportunities for business growth.
It is clear that the lack of human capital in emerging markets today cannot support the future needs of the private sector. Business needs to consider the impact of not investing in education today – and what it means for business continuity in the future.
The case for business to invest in education is clear, yet this smart investment remains to be seen.