The employment gap between young people who left high school early and those who completed post-secondary education has continued to widen during the global economic crisis.
New data from the 2013 edition of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) annual Education at a Glance report shows conclusively that further education is the best way to offset a lack of work experience for young people, and a reliable path to improved opportunities for better earnings and employment prospects.
The report compiles data for more than 20 indicators from the 34 OECD member states (along with non-members Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa) and across the educational spectrum from pre-school to doctoral studies.
Country by country comparisons
However, as the data tables below illustrate, there are notable variations in unemployment rates for those with less education across OECD countries.
The steep increases in youth unemployment between 2008 and 2011, especially among low-educated young people, in countries particularly affected by the global economic crisis are well-known:
- Estonia (a 17.6 percentage-point increase in unemployment among 25-34 year-olds without a secondary education);
- Greece (15.0 percentage-point increase);
- Ireland (21.5 percentage-point increase);
- Spain (16.0 percentage-point increase).
Less known is that, during the same period, some countries saw drops in unemployment among low-skilled youth, such as:
- Austria (-3.3 percentage points);
- Chile (-3.6 percentage points);
- Germany (-2.1 percentage points);
- Israel (-0.9 percentage point);
- Korea (-1.6 percentage points);
- Luxembourg (-1.0 percentage point);
- Turkey (-1.7 percentage points).
OECD Deputy Director of Education Andreas Schleicher shares some of these report highlights. Watch the video and continue reading below.
Investing in education
2013’s Education at a Glance is a stark demonstration of the relationship between a country’s investment in education – that is, both the scale and nature of that investment – and the outcomes for both individuals and national economies. And on this point, the report sounds a cautionary note in observing that the economic crisis has now reversed a long-term trend of increasing investment in education.
Public spending on educational institutions fell by 1% on average (as a percentage of GDP) across OCED countries between 2009 and 2010, and education budget cuts were observed in 2011 and 2012 in 15 OECD member states. Some examples include:
- Public expenditure on educational institutions decreased in approximately 33% of countries during that period.
- Reductions by 2% or less were seen in Austria, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain and the United States.
- Drops of more than 2% were seen in Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Italy and Russian Federation.
- Between 2005 and 2010, spending per tertiary-level student dropped in eight countries – including Austria, Iceland, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States – even as post-secondary enrolments continued to grow over that same period.