25/06/2013 - The jobs gap between well-educated young people and those who left school early has continued to widen during the crisis. A good education is the best insurance against a lack of work experience, according to the latest edition of the OECD’s annual Education at a Glance.
Unemployment rates are nearly three times higher among people without an upper secondary education (13% on average across OECD countries) than among those who have a tertiary education (5%). Between 2008 and 2011, the unemployment rate for the poorly-educated rose by around 4 percentage points, while it increased by only 1.5 percentage points for the highly educated.
“Leaving school with good qualifications is more essential than ever,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “Countries must focus efforts on helping young people, especially the less well-educated who are most at risk of being trapped in a low skills, low wage future. Priorities include reducing school dropout rates and investing in skills-oriented education that integrates the worlds of learning and work.
This year’s report finds new evidence of the value of vocational qualifications as a pathway to employment: countries with a higher than average (32%) share of vocational graduates, such as Austria, Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland, saw unemployment rise much less or even fall among 25-34 year-olds than their peers with general upper secondary qualifications.
The crisis has also widened the earnings gap: the average difference in earnings from employment between the low educated and the highly educated has risen from 75 percentage points across OECD countries in 2008 to 90 percentage points in 2011. On average, the relative earnings of tertiary-educated adults are over 1.5 times that of adults with upper secondary education. People with upper secondary education earn 25% more than their peers who left school early.
One outcome of the crisis has been a rise in the number of young people staying on at school, as their job prospects declined. Since 2008, the percentage of 15-29 year-olds who continued in education increased by an average of 1.5 percentage points among OECD countries.
But the crisis has halted the long-term trend of rising investment in education. Public spending on educational institutions between 2009 and 2010 as a percentage of GDP fell by 1% on average across the OECD area.
Public expenditure on educational institutions decreased in one- third of countries during that period, by 2% or less in Austria, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain and the United States. Drops of more than 2% were seen in Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Italy and Russian Federation. Education budget cuts took place in 2011 and 2012 in 15 OECD countries.
At the tertiary level, between 2005 and 2010, spending per tertiary student fell in 8 countries, as expenditure did not keep up with expanding enrolments. Austria, Iceland, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States, which saw significant increases in student enrolment between 2005 and 2010, did not increase spending at the same pace as enrolment grew. Public spending per student also fell in New Zealand, the Russian Federation and Switzerland.
Education at a Glance provides comparable national statistics measuring the state of education worldwide. The report analyses the education systems of the 34 OECD member countries, as well as Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
Education and health
Journalists are invited to contact Andreas Schleicher (tel. + 33 1 45 24 93 66) in the OECD’s Education Directorate or Spencer Wilson of the OECD’s Media Division. The report is available to journalists on the OECD’s password-protected site.
OECD tweetchat on Wednesday 26 June – 17.30 p.m.Paris time - with Andreas Schleicher. Follow and ask your questions using the hashtag #OECDchat via Twitter, follow @OECD_Edu or log in to Tweetchat.com. You can also send your questions in advance to @OECD_Edu.