Skills beyond school

Skills Beyond School Synthesis Report


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Higher level vocational education and training (VET) programmes are facing rapid change and intensifying challenges. What type of training is needed to meet the needs of changing economies? How should the programmes be funded? How should they be linked to academic and university programmes? How can employers and unions be engaged? This report synthesises the findings of the series of  country reports done on skills beyond school.


  • Chapter 1. The hidden world of professional education and training
  • Chapter 2. Enhancing the profile of professional education and training
  • Chapter 3. Three key elements of high-quality post-secondary programmes
  • Chapter 4. Transparency in learning outcomes
  • Chapter 5. Clearer pathways for learners
  • Chapter 6. Key characteristics of effective vocational systems


Summary and policy recommendations

Post-secondary vocational education and training plays an under-recognised role in country skill systems. School and university, and the well-trod path between them, play a dominant role in thinking about education policy. But outside these two institutions there exists a less well understood world of colleges, diplomas, certificates and professional examinations – the world of post-secondary vocational education and training. Many professional and technical jobs require no more than one or two years of career preparation beyond upper secondary level, and in some countries as much as one-quarter of the adult workforce have this type of qualification (see Figure 1). Nearly two-thirds of overall employment growth in the European Union (EU25) is forecast to be in the “technicians and associate professionals” category – the category most closely linked to this sector (CEDEFOP, 2012). A recent US projection is that nearly one-third of job vacancies by 2018 will require some post-secondary qualification but less than a four-year degree (Carnevale, Smith and Strohl, 2010). The aim of this OECD study is to cast light on this world, as it is large, dynamic, and of key importance to country skill systems.

Read the complete summary and policy recommendations in English, FrenchSpanish and German.

Key findings


key findings by country

For the full set of Skills Beyond School country reviews, click here



further reading




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