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


OECD Conference "Disrupted futures: International lessons on how schools can equip students for their working lives"

The conference will focus on practice and research on career readiness from around the world.   

 27-29 October 2021 

See the conference programme and timetable here and the full programme with abstracts here

Sign up here for different sessions:


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:

Contact: and 

Twitter: @AnthonyMannOECD

Personal data protection: To learn more about personal data protection in the Career Readiness project, please see the notice available here


Staying in education longer than ever and facing a turbulent labour market undergoing radical change due to automation and the coronavirus, it has never been more important for young people to effectively prepared by their schools for the working world.”

Andreas SCHLEICHER, OECD, Director for Education and Skills

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:‌‌

Effective Practice and Policy

Policy Papers

Investing in Career Guidance

(July 2021) 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.

Investir dans l'orientation professionnelle

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

Australia - St. Norbert College, Ocupationally-focused Work Experience and Student-led Career Fairs: enabling career thinking early, and ensuring that career education is made available from the whole school community.

Canada - Centres of Excellence in New Brunswick: engaging employers in the funding and virtual delivery of information and experiential learning opportunities in strategically important economic sectors.

Canada - Future Ready Learning K-12: enabling career thinking early, and ensuring that career education is made available from the whole school community.

Croatia - Public Employment Services & Job Search Preparation: providing easy access to information and guidance regarding the search for employment.

Finland - Access to Guidance Counsellors and One-Stop Guidance Centres: facilitating easy access to trustworthy and understandable labour market information, and ensuring that advice is made available from guidance professionals.

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.

France - Examples of Jobs and Careers in Science Class: bringing learning to life through integrating career learning into classroom teaching.

Korea - The Free Learning Semester Programme: supporting the flexible delivery of career education, and ensuring that employers, employees, and workplace experiences are systematically involved in provision.

New Zealand - Massey High School Building Academy: providing opportunities for young people to examine and explore the relationship between education and employment.

New Zealand - SpeedMeet: helping secondary students to meet and engage with potential employers in the skilled trades and service industry.

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 Kingdom - Inspiring the Future: helping young people to develop informed, critical perspectives about the relationship between education and employment through an efficient national delivery model.

United Kingdom - Primary Futures: empowering young people to begin career thinking early, actively seeking to broaden career-related knowledge and interests, and challenge stereotypical thinking.

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

United States - World of Work: assisting young people to analyse their individual strengths and interests through engagement with the working world in order to help students develop better understanding of career options and how they can be achieved.


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


Blogs, Articles, Presentations and Videos

Looking for green engineers - insights from PISAThe fight against climate change cannot be won without significant changes in knowledge and skills that people bring to their work.

Career ready? Preparing young people for working life Data-driven guidance: new OECD work on teenage indicators of career readiness

From career readiness to career optionality 
A video interview with Julia Freeland Fisher that covers our ongoing work on indicators of teenage career readiness with a focus on practical approaches to supporting young people.  

How well are students prepared to enter the world of work? Dream Jobs? looks at data from the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests and earlier tests to explore teenagers’ thinking about their future careers.

How Estonia is delivering online career guidance during the coronavirus crisis Remote career guidance is here to stay in Estonia – with or without crisis. They enable flexible participation without sacrificing quality.

Can nursing thrive in the age of the coronavirus? What young people think about the profession How do young people see the nursing profession?

School-to-work transitions during coronavirus: Lessons from the 2008 Global Financial Crisis Why are young people so vulnerable during economic downturn? and what can be done?  

A Class, Apart: The career aspirations of the COVID Generation on the eve of the pandemic What do we know about the career ambitions of the COVID generation on the eve of the pandemic – and does this provide comfort or concern?

Career ready? Preparing young people for working life In this tough environment, it is timely to reflect on what education institutions are doing to help give students confidence that they will be able to contend for available jobs.

Young people and jobs: What can we do to help in 2021 and beyond? Many worry about the generation that is now leaving education. Not only is it facing a deeply hostile labour market, it is also the most highly educated and most ambitious generation in history to attempt the transition from education to employment.

Career readiness in the pandemic How can we tell if young people are likely to benefit from the career guidance and development that they engage in? We can do this through analysis of national longitudinal databases. Following thousands of individuals from childhood to adulthood, we can find associations between attitudes and experiences and better outcomes in adulthood. 



Career readiness in the pandemic Hong Kong January 21

New OECD project for 2021: Career readiness in the pandemic December 2020



Why career guidance has never been so important?



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).