WASHINGTON – The World Bank Thursday launched a spending program to assess young people’s skills in developing countries before they enter the job market and to help them by providing funds for health, care, education, and job skills training, President Jim Yong Kim said.

“Human capital is the key to reducing poverty and to reducing inequality,” said Kim, adding that “far too many” leaders of World Bank member countries have underestimated the long-term benefits of investing in people.

Kim said the global economy is recovering after the 2008 crisis but investment has plateaued.

Globally, developed countries do invest in their citizens but low-income countries are focused on funding infrastructure and providing goods and services.

According to the World Bank’s new report on automation and production, innovating machines will eventually eliminate low-skills jobs, which means in the future, jobs will require “new and more sophisticated skills.”

“As many as 65 percent of primary school children today will work in jobs or fields that don’t exist yet,” said Kim. “This measure would inform how prepared these new generations will be to face the rapidly-changing world of work.”

At next week’s annual meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Kim will outline the Human Capital project with member countries’ heads of central banks and finance ministers, focusing on increasing jobs, reducing poverty and strengthening their global competitiveness.

He said the World Bank will produce new wealth analysis reports that add human capital analysis.

“We are hoping this effort can help inform the decisions made by heads of state and finance ministers,” said Kim. “We also hope that the human capital project will create the political space for heads of state and finance ministers to make these critical investments.

After this year’s assessment of young people’s skills worldwide, the project will spend 2018 defining what improvements and solutions are needed.