From education to employment

What does the OECD Think of the State of Educational Affairs?

With two major reviews of the Further Education sector on the horizon ““ in November, the much anticipated Foster Review will report on reform in the sector, whilst in March of 2006 the Treasury ““ backed Leitch Review will detail the anticipated skills required for a successful Britain in 2020 ““ the education system and the service it provides have rarely come under stricter scrutiny.

It has emerged that a great many Members of Parliament have lost faith in industry’s ability to determine the skills required for the future, which calls into doubt the drive to bring more employers into the formulation of strategy. In addition, the Government’s various skills initiatives, and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) strategy statement over the summer, have served to further develop the sector.

But what really needs doing? How far have we come? And how far do we still have to go in order to be all that Britain both wants and needs to be? In this two ““ part series, FE News reporter Sara Hashash looks at the OECD’s report on the state of education and skills training.

Continuing Development

The annual “Education at a Glance” 2005 report carried out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has revealed an increasing demand for skilled workers as people face greater pressure to continue training and developing their skills throughout their working lives.

Part of the reason for this is a general increase in job mobility and higher levels of overall job task complexity. Governments of OECD nations therefore have much progress to make in advancing and developing education and training facilities and provision.

There has undoubtedly been a significant rise in the number of people enrolled in and completing education over the last 50 years. There is much evidence that confirms this growing trend towards more education and training, with statistics indicating that three quarters of people born in the 1970s have completed secondary education compared with just half of those born in the 1940s.

The Employer’s Role

The relationship between education and employment is thus continually strengthened as the demand for workers with higher skills grows. Education not only significantly enhances a person’s employment prospects but also assists to maintain a worker’s employability by striving for continual improvement. Regular and continuous training will ensure that an employee remains up to date with the latest methods, ideas and the newest forms of technology that could assist them in their role; maximising the worker’s efficiency and potential.

Furthermore, the impact of education on working life is also reflected in earning figures and statistics. Better educated people still earn more than those with little or no qualifications, and the gap between the two is steadily rising. In addition, those who have not completed secondary education face a significantly higher risk of unemployment. At present 15% of 20 – 24 year olds without secondary qualifications are unemployed, compared with just half that number of those who do possess secondary school qualifications.

Comparing Statistics from Abroad

The “Education at a Glance” report has provided results that vary greatly suggesting that success is not easily achieved by following a single prescribed method. For example, there has been a spectacular rise in the number of people attending secondary education in Korea. An increase from 32% of Koreans born in the 1940s who have completed secondary education, to an overwhelming 97% of people born in the 1970s – placing Korea in the lead ahead of Norway (95%), and Japan and the Slovak Republic (94%).

Korea thus successfully assumed first place, moving up from 24th place out of the 34 OCED countries in the 1940s. However, Portugal has seen a much smaller rise as the proportion of citizens with secondary qualifications has only been raised from a mere 10% of those born in the 1940s to a still very low 37% of those born in the 1970s.

The varying levels of success and advancement could be dependant on cultural issues or national beliefs and principles, as well as factors such as accessibility to education, the level of skills required in order to obtain employment or the extent of competition in the job market in a specific country.

Read the second instalment of Sara Hashash on the OECD Report tomorrow!

Sara Hashash

Education at a glance? Take a peek into the FE Blog

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