OECD Skills Outlook 2015.pdf

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The transition from school to work has never been particularly easy; but for millions of young people in OECD countries,
it has become nearly impossible. Seven years after the 2008 global economic crisis, more than 35 million 16-29 year-olds
across OECD countries are neither employed nor in education or training. In fact, young people are twice as likely as
prime-age workers to be unemployed. Many of the young people who do manage to find work are not using the skills
they acquired during their schooling. And one in four young people who are employed is working on a temporary
contract – which limits the opportunities to advance in a career or even to participate in further training. Giving young
people a good start to their independent working lives has become a major challenge across OECD countries today.
The inaugural edition of the OECD Skills Outlook, published in 2013, reported the results from the first round of the
Survey of Adult Skills, a product of the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies
(PIAAC). This edition expands on some of those findings to create a detailed picture of how young people acquire and
use their skills – and the potential barriers they face to doing both.
For example, the Survey of Adult Skills shows that 10% of new graduates have poor literacy skills and 14% have poor
numeracy skills – not an attractive profile for potential employers. In addition, work and education are too often separate
worlds: less than 50% of students in vocational education and training programmes, and less than 40% of students in
academic programmes in the 22 OECD countries and regions covered by the Survey of Adult Skills, were participating
in any kind of work-based learning at the time of the survey.
The OECD Skills Outlook 2015: Youth, Skills and Employability makes clear that where education and the labour market
co-exist as two separate worlds, it is very difficult for young people to manage the transition from one to the other. Young
people are best integrated into the world of work when education systems are flexible and responsive to the needs of
the labour market, when employers are engaged in both designing and providing education programmes, when young
people have access to high-quality career guidance and further education that can help them to match their skills to
prospective jobs, and when institutionalised obstacles to enter the labour market, even for those with the right skills, are
One of the central messages of this volume is that a concerted effort – by education providers, the labour market, tax
and social institutions, employer and employee organisations, and parents and young people themselves – is needed to
create these conditions. Youth unemployment and underemployment have adverse and long-lasting consequences for
both the individuals and the countries involved. It is in everyone’s interest, then, to work together so that young people
have a smoother and faster route from the classroom to the workplace.