To what level have adults studied?
In this publication, different indicators show the level of education among individuals, groups and countries. Indicator A1 shows the level of attainment, i.e. the percentage of a population that has reached a certain level of education. Graduation rates in Indicators A2 and A3 measure the estimated percentage of young adults who graduate from this level of education during their lifetimes. Successful completion of upper secondary programmes in Indicator A2 estimates the proportion of students who enter a programme and complete it successfully (see Box A2.1). Educational attainment is a commonly used proxy for the stock of human capital – that is, the skills available in the population and the labour force. Following a decline in demand for manual labour and for basic cognitive skills that can be replicated by computers, recent trends show sharp increases in the demand for complex communication and advanced analytical skills. These trends generally favour a more educated labour force, and the demand for education is thus increasing at a rapid pace in many countries. While the economic crisis increased the speed of change, it is also bolstering incentives for individuals to invest in education, as worsening prospects in the labour market lower some of the costs of education, such as earnings foregone while studying.
How many students finish secondary education?
Upper secondary education provides the basis for advanced learning and training opportunities and prepares some students for direct entry into the labour market. Graduation rates discussed here do not assume that an education system has adequately equipped its graduates with the basic skills and knowledge necessary to enter the labour market, because this indicator does not capture the quality of educational outcomes. However, these rates do give an indication of the extent to which education systems succeed in preparing students to meet the labour market’s minimum requirements.
How many students finish tertiary education?
Tertiary graduation rates indicate a country’s capacity to produce workers with advanced, specialised knowledge and skills. In OECD countries, there are strong incentives to obtain a tertiary qualification, including higher salaries and better employment prospects. Tertiary education varies widely in structure and scope among countries, and graduation rates are influenced by both the degree of access to these programmes and the demand for higher skills in the labour market. Expanding tertiary education while maintaining quality is likely to create pressures for current levels of tertiary spending to be maintained or increased.
To which fields of education are students attracted?
Faced with an economic downturn and shrinking budgets, governments need to invest in the fields of education that respond to labour-market needs. Parents and students, too, need to choose prospective fields carefully. The choice is sometimes made early in a child’s education, such as when children are directed towards vocational or academic programmes or, later on, if they decide to pursue tertiary studies. Students’ preferences and abilities, and the cost, duration and location of higher education can all influence the choice of a field of study, as can changes in the labour market, differences in potential earnings among occupations and sectors, and admissions policies and practices of tertiary education institutions. In turn, the relative popularity of various fields of education affects the demand for programmes and teaching staff, as well as the supply of new graduates.
Does student background affect student performance?
In trying to provide students with equitable learning opportunities, education systems aim to reduce the extent to which a student’s socio-economic background affects his or her performance in school. Performance differences that are related to student background are evident in every country. But PISA results show that some countries have been more successful than others in mitigating the impact of socio-economic background on students’ performance in reading. In general, students with an immigrant background are socio-economically disadvantaged, and this explains part of the performance disadvantage among these students. They face considerable challenges in reading and other aspects of education. In general, they tend to show lower levels of performance even after their socio-economic background is taken into account.
Are students who enjoy reading better readers?
Students who enjoy reading, and therefore make it a regular part of their lives, are able to build their reading skills through practice. PISA shows strong associations between reading enjoyment and performance. This does not mean that results show that enjoyment of reading has a direct impact on reading scores; rather, the finding is consistent with research showing that such enjoyment is an important precondition for becoming an effective reader. Therefore, to bolster reading performance, schools need to both instruct students in reading techniques and foster an interest in reading.
How does educational attainment affect participation in the labour market?
OECD countries’ economies and labour markets depend upon a sufficient supply of well-educated workers. Indicators related to labour-market outcomes by educational attainment show how well the supply of skills matches demand. However, most education programmes have a long time horizon, while shifts in the demand for labour can occur rapidly. The pace of this change has been accentuated by the recent economic downturn.
What are the earnings premiums from education?
One way that labour markets provide incentives for individuals to develop and maintain skills is through earnings. The earnings premium realised by those with higher levels of education is not only an incentive to invest in education but also says something about the supply of and demand for education. High and rising earnings premiums can indicate that more highly educated individuals are in short supply; the opposite is true for low and falling premiums. Relative earnings, and trend data on the earnings premium in particular, are thus important indicators of the match between the education system and the labour market.
What are the incentives to invest in education?
The financial benefits of completing higher levels of education motivate individuals to postpone consumption today for future rewards. From a policy perspective, awareness of economic incentives is crucial to understanding how individuals move through the education system. Large shifts in the demand for education can drive up earnings and returns considerably before supply catches up. This provides a strong signal, both to individuals and to the education system, of the need for additional investment.
How expensive are graduates to hire?
The skills available in the labour force, and the price of those skills, determine how countries will fare in the global market. OECD countries face increasing competition in the lower and, more recently, mid-range skills segments. But even at these levels, many countries maintain a competitive advantage through technological advances, innovation and capital investments that boost productivity levels.
What are the social outcomes of education?
There is growing interest in looking beyond the traditional economic measures of individual success, such as income, employment and GDP per capita, towards non-economic aspects of well-being and social progress, such as life satisfaction, civic engagement and health. Recent initiatives, such as the Stiglitz-Sen Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress and the World Health Organization’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health, have been prompted by concerns that society is not as cohesive as it should be and that citizens are not as healthy and happy as they deserve to be. Several OECD countries have seen a decline in indicators of civic engagement, such as voting, volunteering and interpersonal trust, changes that may well have significant and lasting consequences for the quality of democratic societies (OECD, 2010).
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