People with university degrees have suffered far fewer job losses during the global economic crisis than those who left school without qualifications, according to the latest edition of the OECD’s annual Education at a Glance. Good education and skills are crucial to improving a person’s economic and social prospects.
Unemployment rates among university graduates stood at 4.4% on average across OECD countries in 2009. But people who did not complete high school faced unemployment rates of 11.5%, up from 8.7% the year before. This adds to the huge problem of youth unemployment that today exceeds 17% in the OECD area.
“The cost to individuals and society of young people leaving school without a qualification keeps rising,” says OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “We must avoid the risk of a lost generation by all means. Despite strained public budgets, governments must keep up their investment to maintain quality in education, especially for those most at risk.”
“Investment in education is not only about money, it’s also an investment in people and an investment in the future.”
Based on current graduation trends, 82% of young people today will complete upper secondary education, but those who do not will face ever greater challenges in entering and staying in the job market.
The OECD report also illustrates how the global talent pool is changing: the more educated workforces of Japan and the United States, which together have nearly half of all tertiary-educated adults in the OECD area (47%), have given them a head-start in many high-skill areas.
But the picture is changing – at present, one in three university-educated retirees resides in the U.S. but only one in five university graduates entering the workforce does. Conversely, while only 5% of adults in China have a tertiary degree, because of its population size, the country now ranks second behind the U.S. and ahead of Japan in the percent of the population with tertiary attainment among OECD and G20 countries.
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