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Education is central to sustainable development and economic growth. Yet more than 57 million children are out of school; millions more are in education but not learning; and there remains a profound mismatch between what many children and young people do learn and the skills they need to succeed in life and in work.

This global education crisis is a strategic concern for business. The inability to secure talent with the right skills and manage talent related costs keeps firms from being able to expand and launch new products or services. Business surveys report that gaps in skills are one of the biggest constraints for companies, with a direct impact on the bottom line. By failing to nurture the talent of young people, poor education systems are holding back economic expansion and productivity. The growth potential created by demographic trends cannot be seized when the majority of youth leave school without basic skills. Inequalities in educational opportunity interact with other forces of exclusion to weaken the social and political stability needed for business to thrive. Our proposition is that these challenges will only worsen without deeper and more effective intervention by the business community to support global education.

Business has a critical stake in improving education, in particular in low-income countries and emerging economies, where the needs are greatest and the vast majority of the world’s global talent pool will reside in the future. The decline in conventional aid to education makes greater private sector engagement all the more urgent.

The world’s current educational systems will not meet the aspirations of youth, or the needs of the private sector, in the years to come without a significant increase in resources and technical capacity. By leveraging their funds, capability and influence, companies can help bridge this gap with benefits both for business and for society.


The Framework for Business Engagement, developed by UNESCO, the UN Global Compact, UNICEF and the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Education, outlines best practice principles and shows how companies can realize core business objectives – growth, cost-reduction, profitability – and at the same time resolve education challenges. Education and business leaders are exploring innovative models for social investment to channel private sector resources to improve public education systems. As well as strengthening corporate philanthropy, the focus is on developing new financing models that reflect the shared interest, value and returns of investment in education.

This campaign will build on these resources to catalyse stronger and smarter business engagement in education.

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Download the Framework