Higher education rises but leaves question marks

The proportion of young adults with tertiary education increased by nearly 10 percentage points in all 36 OECD countries in 2008-2018. Higher education brings benefits. People with a tertiary degree are less vulnerable to unemployment for a start, and earn on average 57% more than adults with upper secondary education–this advantage increases with age, to 70% in the case of 45-54 year-olds. Highly educated adults are also more likely to participate in cultural, sporting and public life, be in good health, and take care of the environment.

Strong information and communication technologies skills can, in some cases, completely compensate for lower levels of educational attainment, Education at a Glance shows, particularly as technological advances are transforming the labour market and the future of work.

As well as IT, engineering, manufacturing and construction are also commonly associated with high earnings, yet, only 14% of tertiary graduates in 2017 obtained a degree in these areas, and as few as 4% in IT. Little wonder they often struggle to fill vacancies.

Women could be encouraged to take advantage of this, for although the proportion of tertiary-educated women outstrips men in most OECD countries, they account for less than 25% of entrants in these important sectors.

See www.oecd.org/education

©OECD Observer Q3 No 319 Sep 2019

Economic data

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Last update: 10 Nov 2020

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