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Education Indicators in Focus

Education Indicators in Focus is a recurring series of briefs that highlight specific indicators in OECD’s Education at a Glance that are of particular interest to policy makers and practitioners. They provide a detailed look into current issues in pre-primary, primary and secondary education, higher education, and adult outcomes from a global perspective, and contain an engaging mix of text, tables and charts that describe the international context of the most pressing questions in education policy and practice.

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How Is the Global Talent Pool Changing?

At a time when having more education is increasingly necessary for success in the labour market, how is the talent pool of young higher education graduates changing around the world? According to the OECD’s latest analysis, not only has it exploded over the last decade – it’s likely to grow far larger by the year 2020.

As detailed in the new issue of the OECD’s brief series Education Indicators in Focus, by the year 2020, more than 200 million 25-34 year-olds in OECD and G20 countries will have higher education degrees, and 40% of them will be from China and India alone. By contrast, the United States and the European Union countries are expected to account for just over a quarter of young people with higher education degrees in OECD and G20 countries.

What’s more, the rapid expansion of higher education in non-OECD G20 countries has significantly altered the distribution of the talent pool among countries. A decade ago, one in six 25-34 year-olds with a higher education degree was from the United States, a similar proportion was from China, 12% came from the Russian Federation, and about 10% each were from Japan and India. But according to OECD estimates, in 2010 China moved to the head of the pack, accounting for 18% of 25-34 year-olds with higher education. The United States followed with 14%, the Russian Federation and India each had 11%, and Japan had 7%.

These trends are likely to only intensify further in the years ahead – raising key questions as to how the labour market will absorb the swelling number of better-educated people in the future.

Be sure to check your inbox for future issues of Education Indicators in Focus, which each month provides analysis and policy insights into the most pressing issues in education today, using evidence from Education at a Glance, the flagship publication of the OECD’s Indicators of Education Systems (INES) programme.

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