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ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

CTE Key to Combatting Global Unemployment

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July 3, 2013

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CTE Key to Combatting Global Unemployment

The latest Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Education at a Glance report emphasizes the role of CTE in combatting unemployment globally.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría stated in an opening editorial that "though many factors play a role in a country's capacity to contain the rise in youth unemployment in times of crisis, the way institutional arrangements between education and work facilitate transitions into employment is perhaps one of the most important." For instance, across OECD countries, individuals who completed CTE-focused upper secondary education were more likely to be employed than those who completed more general upper secondary education (upper secondary is akin to the last two years of high school here in the U.S.). In addition, countries with a higher-than-average proportion of graduates from vocational programs, such as Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Luxembourg, were able to curb unemployment rates for young adults.

Gurría went on to emphasize the role of CTE in strengthening countries' abilities to respond to labor market fluctuations, and shared that between 2005 and 2011, the number of students graduating from CTE-focused upper secondary education increased by 4.3 percent across OECD countries and 10 percent in certain countries, including Austria, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.

Overall, the data shows rising unemployment from 2008 to 2011 globally, with much greater unemployment for those with less than a high school diploma or its equivalent than those with more education. In the U.S., unemployment rates for those who did not complete high school increased to 16.2 percent in 2011, while the unemployment rate for individuals with postsecondary education was 4.9 percent. In addition, the nation was ranked fifth in postsecondary educational attainment among 25- to 64-year-olds, but only 12th in postsecondary attainment for young adults (25- to 34-year-olds).

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