Executive summary

In 2022, the world faces considerable disruption and uncertainty brought about by three catalysing forces: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (with its dramatic impact on energy and food prices), the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and extreme weather events. These forces will reverberate into 2023, introducing or intensifying short-term disruptions and accelerating longer-term evolutions. Short-term disruptions that have implications for education and training include global economic uncertainty and tight labour markets. At the same time, accelerated longer-term evolutions include an increasing global investment in clean energy, digital transformation, and mass information. These forces challenge education policy makers to transform existing pathways in their countries and economies so that people can become effective lifelong learners capable of navigating change.

Building on the OECD’s Framework of Responsiveness and Resilience in Education Policy, as well as analysis of international policies and practices from over 40 education systems undertaken mainly since 2020, this report presents three areas of policy effort to advance transformation in 2023.

In 2023, countries and economies across the OECD and beyond need to help populations recover from recent shocks while ensuring individuals and societies adapt to longer-term trends that change the way people live and work. Recent policy efforts undertaken to enhance the relevance of the education offer look into: anticipation (generating and sharing information on the current and expected future demand for labour and skills), adaptability (connecting the education and training offer with identified skills needs in response to both urgent and important challenges) and assessment of impact (monitoring and evaluating adaptation efforts, and providing feedback on whether education policies or programmes are developing the desired skills).

Evidence from these recent processes offers some key messages and policy pointers for action:

  1. 1. Education systems need to strengthen their skills anticipation capacity, starting by shorter-term forecasts

    • Strengthen anticipatory capacity across various levels of the system to increase resilience.

    • Adopt the perspectives of specific groups as inequalities risk deepening.

  2. 2. Proactive and reactive adaptations of education and training opportunities should ultimately seek to empower learners to navigate broader change

    • Develop measurable strategies to help governments balance competing needs.

    • Explore ways to gain flexibility to attract untapped resources to finance adaptation.

  3. 3. Assessing the impact of policy efforts to enhance learning pathways needs to become more systematised for greater future resilience

    • Enhance monitoring capacity for local actors to support the scaling up of innovations.

    • Build ecosystem approaches to monitoring and evaluation to provide more insightful evidence.

The disruptions experienced since 2020 will continue to affect learners’ abilities to proceed through their learning pathways in 2023. Traditional progression pathways are also evolving. Policy efforts to support learners’ transitions throughout their pathways investigate: strengthening connections in learners’ pathways (organising learners’ pathways coherently to facilitate transitions from one education level, programme or institution to another), preventing learners from leaving early (taking measures to reduce school drop-out and increase attainment of at least upper secondary education), and supporting refugees to re-enter learning pathways and employment.

Evidence from these recent processes offers some key messages and policy pointers for action:

  1. 1. Stronger connections in learners’ personal pathways throughout life can make them more resilient

    • Embed broader supports to help address longer-term disruptions to transitions.

    • Create the conditions for effective collaboration to increase the longevity of emerging good practices.

  2. 2. Countries need to continue supporting learners at greater risk of leaving early

    • Monitor the impact of COVID-19 on ESL (Early School Leaving) through ongoing investigation to identify hidden or delayed developments.

    • Improve the quality and accessibility of data, which is as important as people’s ability to use it.

    • Prioritise changing pedagogies, going beyond structural or procedural change.

  3. 3. Supporting refugees to re-enter learning or employment pathways is time-sensitive

    • Consider the impact of system-level policies on refugees to support mid-term integration.

    • Promote broader collaborations to foster more sustainable support for refugees.

In the same way, the current context, which anticipates important labour market transitions to continue, adds momentum to the long-recognised need for policy to guide and support career aspirations for learners and workers, young and old. Policy efforts to nurture learners’ aspirations investigate: outreach (efforts to engage with target populations to inform their aspirations or guide them back to education or training), perspectives (the strategic use of realistic and relevant information on education, training, and employment opportunities to modify the perceptions of a target population), and agency (developing learners’ capacity to identify and capitalise on opportunities provided by the education system and labour market, and to create their own opportunities to bring aspirations to fruition).

Evidence from these recent processes offers some key messages and policy pointers for action:

  1. 1. Outreach strategies can help engage target learners in education, training or work opportunities

    • Combine datasets and monitoring eligibility to help identify target groups more effectively.

    • Design special incentives to help engage those hardest to reach.

    • Curate information for different actors and their needs to enhance impact.

  2. 2. Learners’ perspectives need to be enriched and expanded from an earlier age

    • Shift younger learners’ perspectives by shifting those of the adults in their lives.

    • Upskill teachers/guidance professionals to positively shape young people’s aspirations.

    • Engage employers in career education by creating the right conditions.

    • Reiterate action to shape perspectives across the life cycle as learners’ needs and contexts evolve.

  3. 3. Learners need agency and co-agency to identify and capitalise on opportunities

    • Consider that some younger learners may need additional support to develop professional behaviours.

    • Give additional time to some individuals who may need it more to develop agency.

    • Provide practical tools to motivate and empower individuals with longer unemployment periods to support their resilience.


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