PISA in Focus

PISA in Focus is a series of monthly education policy-oriented notes designed to describe a PISA topic in a concise, user-friendly way.

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Are students’ career expectations aligned with their skills?

Adolescence is a period when young people start to prepare for adult life. Teenagers have to make important decisions relevant to their working lives later on, such as what field of study or type of education they will pursue. But young people often lack sufficient knowledge about the breadth of job opportunities and careers open to them; their career and education aspirations are often shaped more by their personal background. In addition to perpetuating existing inequalities in the labour market, this may lead to expectations that are not aligned with the needs of the job market these students will soon enter, particularly in the context of rapid technological advances. While the mismatch between labour market needs and prospective employees’ skills sets is growing, countries need to adapt the supply of skills in order to fuel economic prosperity and ensure that no one is left behind. Education systems can play a crucial role in channelling skills and talent into the labour market and helping young people develop a fair assessment of the opportunities available to them.


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