The International Labour Organisation (ILO) says crisis has forced millions of workers to seek new jobs but their skills are often not those that employers are seeking.
In its 2013 Global Employment Trends report, the ILO added that this skills-mismatch was driving up unemployment levels.
It said several developed economies were seeing increasing numbers of job vacancies but their unemployment rates were not going down; in some cases they even rise.
This, the report noted, particularly affected young people, who get most of their training and education before they start working or early in their careers.
The report made available to the Ghana News Agency yesterday said workers in the construction and financial sectors in countries like the United States and Spain were among the first to be hit by the crisis in late 2008 and 2009.
It said when they lost their jobs, they found that sectors which had not been affected did not require the skills they had. The report said as the crisis spread through international trade, occupations in the exporting industries were also affected; they also faced and continue to face the same problem.
It said in the United States for example, about 30 per cent of jobs in construction were lost between 2007 and 2012, and employment in durable goods manufacturing was 15 per cent below pre-crisis levels. It said in contrast, employment in education and health services was estimated to have risen by 20 per cent.
The report said that had raised concerns about skills and occupational mismatches that could drive up unemployment rates, since the crisis-hit and the recovering sectors require different competencies.
It said in some cases, workers had relocated to different areas or countries, where jobs were available in their field, as was the case with Spaniards moving to Germany and even Portuguese workers heading to Angola.
It said some had opted for “occupational downgrading” – taking a job below their previous level of skills – which would lead to increasing numbers of over-qualified workers. It added that the issue of skills mismatches had received particular attention in developed economies as a result of the economic crisis but it was a problem that affects labour markets in all countries.
The report said skills mismatches could be a transitory phenomenon if dealt with properly. It said targeted educational policies could help address the issue by ensuring jobseekers continued to be employed in the more dynamic sectors of the economy; “but as the number of unemployed workers, as well as the length of their unemployment spells increase, it becomes more and more difficult to tackle the problem.”
It said the challenge for countries was to link skills to productivity, employment, and development. The report said the key was policy coordination and involvement of social partners and key stakeholders in skills’ development.