May 27, 2015

Young people struggling to enter labor market, says OECD

The financial crisis has had a lasting impact on the number of young people out of work, according to the latest OECD Skills Outlook report.

In 2013, 39 million 16–29-year-olds in OECD member countries were not in education, employment or training (“NEET”), a 5 million increase since the crisis in 2008. The estimated figures for 2014 show little improvement.

The situation is particularly bad in the southern European countries that were hardest hit by the recession. In Greece and Spain, a quarter of young people are now classified as NEET.

But the OECD also highlight that too many young people are leaving school without relevant skills, with 10% of recent secondary school leavers having poor literacy skills, and 14% poor numeracy.

And of those young people who are in work, as many as 12% are in jobs they are overqualified for, signifying wasted investment and potential

The OECD calls on governments to take action on youth unemployment, including reviewing job-protection provisions, minimum wages, and social contributions; and re-engaging those “off the radar,” for example by undertaking training in return for benefits.

Werner Eichhorst has written for IZA World of Labor about how vocational training can ease youth unemployment. He argues that: “If tailored to the needs of employers and the labor market, dual vocational education and structured on-the-job learning programs can smooth entry into the labor market for young people compared with an academic high school education alone.”

However, he adds that training cannot be seen as a quick fix: “Structural reforms to revive the economy and reduce entry barriers to employment are also needed.”

Read the OECD Skills Outlook 2015 report here.

Related articles:
Does vocational training help young people find a (good) job? by Werner Eichhorst