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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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What are the advantages today of having an upper secondary qualification?

In most OECD countries, the large majority of adults had at least an upper secondary qualification in 2013, making the completion of upper secondary education the minimum threshold for successful labour market entry and continued employability or the pursuit of further education. Young people who left school before completing upper secondary education face difficulty in the labour market but also have particularly low cognitive skills compared with upper secondary graduates. Those aged 15-29 who left school before completing upper secondary education are twice as likely to have low numeracy scores than those with an upper secondary education. On average across OECD countries, the unemployment rate among 15-29 year-olds not in education is 13 percentage points lower among those with an upper secondary education than for those without. Having a tertiary qualification reduces unemployment rates by a further five percentage points.

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