Career Readiness

Helping schools to better prepare young people for working life


The OECD Career Readiness project is designed to provide new advice to governments, schools, employers and other stakeholders on how to best prepare young people to compete in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) labour market. Drawing on international datasets, the project identifies the career-related factors that make a difference to young people’s success in adult employment.

PISA data shows that schools in most countries can do much more to help young people navigate their school-to-work transitions, better competing for available employment.  

The project reviews existing studies of national longitudinal datasets, undertakes new analysis and demonstrates how young people’s employment outcomes are linked to the ways in which they as teenagers:

  • think about their futures in work 
  • explore their potential futures and
  • experience workplace within and outside of schools 

Effective education systems will equip young people with the resources they need to critically connect their classroom experience to future imagined selves, allowing them to show agency through their transitions. Over 2021, the project team will publish new analysis and guidance for practice and policy. By the autumn of 2021, the team will publish a comprehensive set of data-driven indicators, tools and guidance for public use.

Get Involved

Young people today have never left education more ambitious and highly qualified, but even before the pandemic many struggled to find good work. The COVID-19 crisis has made it more urgent than ever for us to help students prosper as they move through education and into the labour market.

PISA shows that the career ambitions of young people are commonly narrow, confused and distorted by social background. 

The OECD Career Readiness project highlights practical examples how schools are helping young people prepare for their futures.     

Career readiness is a shared responsibility. Families, schools, employers and governments all have roles to play.  Get in touch to keep updated, share examples of effective practice and help shape future work:

Twitter: @AnthonyMannOECD

Coming Soon: 
Conference on teenage Career Readiness in the Pandemic 
The October 2021 conference will focus on practice and research from around the world.   

Details coming soon.

Our Findings

International datasets can help to identify indicators among teenagers that are linked with employment outcomes. Take a look at some of our findings:‌‌


How can schools best prepare all young people to compete for available jobs during a period of high unemployment?

Watch now:

Career readiness during COVID: How schools can help students enter the labour market in an economic crisis 

Dream Jobs - Teenagers' Career Aspirations and the Future of Work

The case for data-driven and inclusive careers support? 

Other Webinars

Ask an expert: Career guidance in the pandemic.
24th February 2021
Click to register

Stay in touch with us  
If you want to find out more about our webinars please contact :

Effective Practice and Policy

Policy Papers

Investing in Career Guidance

(December 2019) A short leaflet jointly published by Cedefop, the European Commission, European Training Foundation, International Labor Organisation, OECD and UNESCO explaining the unprecedented importance of career guidance and what makes for effective practice.

Career guidance policy and practice in the pandemic

(December 2020) The results of an international survey of career guidance policy officials and practitioners exploring the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Résultats Clés

Resultados clave


Examples of Practice

Finland - School-to-Work Group Method: enabling structured critical exploration of labour market entry through employer engagement to enhance transitions into work and psychological well-being. 

New Zealand - WE3 Continuum and Activities: enabling understanding of the relationship between classroom and workplace through critical exploration and engagement with the labour market.

United States – Ethnographies of work: enabling student agency and challenging inequality through critical investigation of the labour market.


Career education that works: an economic analysis using the British Cohort Study (2017) by Elnaz Kashefpakdel and Chris Percy.

Wage premiums at age 26 linked to teenage participation in school-managed career talks undertaken at age 14-16 with premiums increasing with the number of career talks undertaken and student perceptions of their utility. 

Employer engagement in British secondary education wage earning outcomes experienced by young adults (2014) by Anthony Mann and Chris Percy.

Wage premiums at age 19-24 linked to teenage participation in school-managed episodes of employer engagement (short work placements, career talks, mentoring, enterprise activities). 

Socialised social capital? The capacity of schools to use careers provision to compensate for social capital deficiencies among teenagers (2018) by Anthony Mann, Elnaz Kashefpakdel and Chris Percy.

Wage premiums at age 26 linked to teenage social networks and participation in school-managed career talks wherein premiums are greatest for (typically more disadvantaged) young people who do not anybody who will help them get a job when they leave school.

Early occupational aspirations and fractured transitions a study of entry into NEET status in the UK (2010) by Scott Yates, Angel Harris, Ricardo Sabates and Jeremy Staff.

NEET (Not in Education Employment and Training) outcomes at age 16-19 linked to career uncertainty and misalignment at age 16. 

Working it out: career guidance and employer engagement (2018) by Pauline Musset and Lucia Kureková (OECD).

Drawing on PISA data to illustrate how teenage career aspirations are distorted by gender, socio-economic background and migrant status



The OECD gratefully acknowledges the support of our partners in this work: the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the Jacobs Foundation (Switzerland) and the National Center on Education and the Economy (United States).