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Vocational training: the key to adapting to a changing labour market

November 13, 2023

Boosting access to vocational training will be critical to ensure more young people can meet increasing demands for skilled workers and adapt to and benefit from the profound changes spurred by the green and digital transformations.

The OECD Education at a Glance 2023 says that 44% of all upper secondary students are enrolled in vocational education and training (VET) across the OECD. Despite this high share, vocational programmes are still seen as a last resort in too many countries.

According to the report, vocational training can help bridge the divide between schooling and employment and improve learning outcomes by providing skills best acquired at work. Strengthening the involvement of industry in VET should be a priority. Less than half of all upper secondary VET students are enrolled in programmes that include elements of work-based learning.

Better and earlier career guidance is key

Young people need access to effective career guidance to encourage them to explore more employment opportunities from an early age, says the report. Students should also be able to visit workplaces and interact with a range of workers before they have to make any final decisions.

“The number of young adults with upper secondary qualifications across the OECD is improving, up from 82 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds in 2015 to 86 per cent in 2022,” OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said. “However, young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds continue to fall behind. Countries need to focus on closing education gaps and provide more support to disadvantaged students and schools to give more young people the opportunity for a productive career, pay and prospects.”

Source: OECD