More than ever, students need to engage with mathematical concepts, think quantitatively and analytically, and communicate using mathematics. All these skills are central to a young person’s preparedness to tackle problems that arise at work and in life beyond the classroom. But the reality is that many students are not familiar with basic mathematics concepts and, at school, only practice routine tasks that do not improve their ability to think quantitatively and solve real-life, complex problems.
How can we break this pattern? This report, based on results from PISA 2012, shows that one way forward is to ensure that all students spend more “engaged” time learning core mathematics concepts and solving challenging mathematics tasks. The opportunity to learn mathematics content – the time students spend learning mathematics topics and practising maths tasks at school – can accurately predict mathematics literacy. Differences in students’ familiarity with mathematics concepts explain a substantial share of performance disparities in PISA between socio-economically advantaged and disadvantaged students. Widening access to mathematics content can raise average levels of achievement and, at the same time, reduce inequalities in education and in society at large.
The demand for soft skills is increasing, and recent evidence suggests that the supply does not seem to keep up. The benefits from further development of these skills go beyond better labour market outcomes, as soft skills have been shown to contribute to overall well-being.
Growth in OECD Unit Labour Costs slows to 0.5% in the first quarter of 2016
A more skilled population ahead: age or cohort effects? Evidence from PIAAC and the differences in policies approach.
OECD unemployment rate stable at 6.4% in April 2016
Tax incentives are used widely across OECD countries to incentivise individuals to invest in education and training, but are they effective? Recent evidence from the USA highlights the risk of creating overly complex systems in which the embedded incentives are no longer fully understood by individuals. This carries an important lesson for other countries in designing their own tax measures for skills investments.
When nearly a million Vietnamese “boat people” fled their country in the late 1970s and early 1980s and sought refuge elsewhere, they were typically seen as a burden and often turned away. Eventually, many were allowed to settle in the US. Most arrived speaking little or no English and with few assets or relevant job skills. Yet Vietnamese refugees are now more likely to be employed and have higher incomes than people born in the US.
Workers can be mismatched by qualifications while their skills are, in fact, adequate for their jobs. This situation, ‘apparent’ qualification mismatch is more common in certain fields of study than in others and speaks to the need of strengthening the links between employers, education providers and students to share information on the true skills, to avoid true skills mismatch.
Ongoing innovation in technology is changing labour markets worldwide. To understand the future of work in the digital era, we need to move away from the traditional economic classification of manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors.
Prince William did it, Justin Timberlake did it, and so did David Cameron and Mark Zuckerberg. All four took paternity leave to spend time with babies George, Charlotte, Silas, Florence and Max. These trailblazers are great role models in combining family and work–at least when a new baby arrives–but men around the world are still too slow in following their example.