Skills beyond school

Education Indicators in Focus



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>> Education Indicators in Focus - No. 34

What are the advantages today of having an upper secondary degree?

 Also available: Français


>> Blog: What are the risks of missing out on upper secondary education?

by Dirk van Damme


  The completion of upper secondary education marks the minimum threshold for successful labour market entry and continued employability. Having an upper secondary qualification is the best insurance against the risk of unemployment. This is particularly marked in countries with well-developed Vocational Education and Training (VET) systems.

Upper secondary graduates still have many social and economic advantages compared to the less qualified. However, most individuals need to go beyond upper secondary education in order to reap the higher levels of financial reward their country’s labour market has to offer.

Education Indicators in Focus (EDIF) is a recurring series of briefs that highlight specific indicators in OECD’s Education at a Glance that are of particular interest to policy makers and practitioners.

They provide a detailed look into current issues in pre-primary, primary and secondary education, higher education, and adult outcomes from a global perspective, and contain an engaging mix of text, tables and charts that describe the international context of the most pressing questions in education policy and practice.

You can either access:

  • The list of EDIFs, by theme (below, in English)


Education Indicators in Focus, by theme

Chapter A: The output of educational institutions and the impact of learning
Education attainment (level of education of the population)
EDIF 31 How is the global talent pool changing (2013, 2030)? Blog
EDIF 5 How is the global talent pool changing? Blog
EDIF 28 Are young people attaining higher levels of education than their parents? Blog

Graduates (students who just graduate)

EDIF 23 At what age do university students earn their first degree? Blog
EDIF 25 Who are the doctorate holders and where do their qualifications lead them? Blog
Economic and social outcomes (incentives to invest in education, performance)
EDIF 6 What are the returns on higher education for individuals and countries? Blog
EDIF 10 What are the social benefits of education? Blog
EDIF 11 How do early childhood education and care (ECEC) policies, systems and quality vary across OECD countries? Blog
Labour market perspective (employment/unemployment; earnings, qualified labour force)
EDIF 1 How has the global economic crisis affect people with different levels of education? Blog
EDIF 7 How well are countries educating young people to the level needed for a job and a living wage? Blog
EDIF 16 How can countries best produce a highly-qualified young labour force? Blog
EDIF 17 Does upper secondary vocational education and training improve the prospects of young adults? Blog
EDIF 27 What are the earnings advantages from education? Blog
EDIF 34 What are the advantages today of having an upper secondary qualification? Blog
Equity issues (gender balance, income inequality)
EDIF 32 Are education and skills being distributed more inclusively? Blog
EDIF 30 Education and employment - What are the gender differences? Blog
EDIF 3 How are girls doing in school – and women doing in employment – around the world? Blog
EDIF 4 How pronounced is income inequality around the world – and how can education help reduce it? Blog
 Other (innovation)
EDIF 24 How innovative is the education sector?



Chapter B: Financial and human resources invested in education
Public/private funding (share of private/public funding; trend in funding)
EDIF 18 What is the impact of the economic crisis on public education spending? Blog
EDIF 8 Is increasing private expenditure, especially in tertiary education, associated with less public funding and less equitable access? Blog

Current/capital expenditure (expenditure on teaching staff, on building...)

EDIF 12 Which factors determine the level of expenditure on teaching staff? Blog
Tuition fees and financial support to students
EDIF 2 How are countries around the world supporting students in higher education?



Chapter C: Access to education, participation and progression
Initial education (children in pre-primary to tertiary education)
EDIF 33 Focus on vocational education and training (VET) programmes Blog
EDIF 15 How are university students changing? Blog
EDIF 19 What are tertiary students choosing to study? Blog

Adult education (continuing education, lifelong learning)

EDIF 26 Learning Begets Learning: Adult Participation in Lifelong Education Blog
International mobility (student studying abroad)
EDIF 14 How is international student mobility shaping up? Blog
Transition from school to work (employment and education status)
EDIF 13 How difficult is it to move from school to work?



Chapter D: The learning environment and organisaiton of schools
Students' instruction time
EDIF 22 How much time do primary and lower secondary students spend in the classroom? Blog

Teachers' characteristics

EDIF 20 How old are the teachers? Blog
Teachers' working conditions (teaching/working time, salaries, class size)
EDIF 21 How much are teachers paid and how much does it matter? Blog
EDIF 29 How much time do teachers spend on teaching and non-teaching activities? Blog
EDIF 9 How does class size vary around the world? Blog



See also our series on:




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