NIACE initial response to latest OECD report

9 September 2014

NIACE has responded to the report published by the OECD – Education at a Glance 2014.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“This report from the OECD provides a wealth of data to help us understand the strengths and weaknesses of our learning and skills system and how we compare internationally. It deserves close consideration.

“An initial reading shows that our system is too polarised. Far too many adults are qualified below upper secondary level despite the UK doing well at tertiary level and above. The good progress with current young people likely to achieve at upper secondary level, shows what can be achieved with higher investment. But that focus and success is at the expense of all of those adults aged over 19 who are not benefitting from investment in their tertiary level education.

“The report also clearly shows that attainment in learning really matters in terms of people’s life chances and earnings. It is imperative that we set this report against other data, for instance on our ageing population, especially with the challenge of 13.5 million vacancies in the next 10 years and only 7 million young people entering the labour market over that time. If we don’t support the millions of adults qualified below upper secondary level the consequences for our labour market and future prosperity will be profound. We identified in our manifesto the urgent need to rebalance investment in learning for people of all ages; this report endorses the need for that to happen.

“Our call in our manifesto for a cross-party inquiry into how we need to change the learning and skills system was supported in the Liberal Democrats’ pre-manifesto this week. The OECD data shows that unless we make changes, the UK will remain in the lower ends of the league tables for upper secondary and intermediate skills. That will affect all of us and requires long-term thinking and real change.”