OECD: Postsecondary education key to maintaining global standing of U.S. workforce


10/07/2013 - The United States should improve postsecondary career and technical training provisions to help students transition smoothly into education programs and the labor market, according to a new OECD report published today.


The report, entitled ‘Skills beyond School’, gives high marks to many areas of U.S. postsecondary education, including a highly innovative and dynamic policy environment, locally-responsive institutions and training providers, and a diverse set of credentials that help students succeed in the labor market.


However, the OECD also identified several challenges, including the “relatively weak” basic skills of American teenagers and high school graduates compared with counterparts in other OECD countries.


The overarching recommendation from the report is the need for the U.S. to strategically pursue more quality, coherence and transparency in the U.S. postsecondary system. This, say the report’s authors, will help deliver the skills training and credentials needed to build employer confidence, support student success and maintain the global standing of the US workforce.


Specific recommendations include:


  • Substantially strengthen quality assurance in postsecondary education and its links to Title IV student aid,
  • Establish a quality standard for industry credentials (especially certifications),
  • Develop workplace training as a standard element in postsecondary career and technical programs,
  • Systematically develop and support prior learning assessment both as a means of encouraging adults to return to postsecondary education, and because of its wider benefits,
  • Ensure that postsecondary students have sufficient information and career guidance.


The United States is one of more than 20 OECD countries to undergo a review of their career and technical education.


For further information, journalists are invited to contact Simon Field from the OECD's Education Directorate, +33 45 24 18 71


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