Education

Governments must step up efforts to tackle youth unemployment

 

27/05/2015 - More than 35 million young people, aged 16-29, across OECD countries are neither employed nor in education or training (NEET). Overall, young people are twice as likely as prime-age workers to be unemployed. Governments need to do more to give young people a good start to their working lives and help them find work, according to a new OECD report.

 

The OECD Skills Outlook 2015 says that around half of all NEETs in the OECD are out of school and not looking for work and are likely to have dropped off the radar of their country’s education, social, and labour market systems.

 

“Addressing this issue is not only a moral imperative, but also an economic necessity,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, launching the report in Berlin. “Too many young people leave education without having acquired the right skills and, even those who do, are prevented from putting them to productive use. These young people often face a difficult future and need all our support. “

 

The report expands on the findings of the first OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), published in 2013, and creates a detailed picture of how young people acquire and use their skills, as well as the potential barriers they face to doing both.

 

It shows that 10% of new graduates have poor literacy skills and 14% have poor numeracy skills. More than 40% of those who left school before completing their upper secondary education have poor numeracy and literacy skills.

 

Work and education are also too often separate worlds: less than 50% of students in vocational education and training programmes, and less than 40% of students in academic programmes in the 22 OECD countries and regions covered were participating in some kind of work-based learning at the time of the survey. Even young people with strong skills have trouble finding work. Many firms find it too expensive to hire individuals with no labour market experience.

 

Young people in work can also face institutionalised obstacles to developing their skills. For example, one in four employed young people is on a temporary contract and so tend to use their skills less and have fewer training opportunities than workers on permanent contracts.

 

To help more young people into work, the OECD recommends:

 

  • High-quality pre-primary education for all children in order to help mitigate disparities in education outcomes and to give every child a strong start to their education.

 

  • Teachers and school leaders should identify low achievers early on to give them the support they need to attain sufficient proficiency in reading, mathematics and science, and prevent them from dropping out of school entirely.

 

  • Public employment services, social welfare institutions and education and training systems should offer some form of second-chance education or training. In return for receiving social benefits, young people could be required to register with social welfare or public employment services, and participate in further education and training.

 

  • Education providers and the business sector should work together to design qualifications frameworks that accurately reflect the actual skills of new graduates.

 

  • Work-based learning should be integrated into both vocational and academic post-secondary programmes.

 

Click here for an embeddable version of the report.

 

For more information, journalists should contact the OECD Media Division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 97 00).

 

 

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