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Young people in Ireland are among the world’s most educated

Young people in Ireland are among the world’s most educated

16 Sep 17:00 by Sherrel Solomon


A major international study has revealed young people in Ireland have the highest levels of education in the world.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report 56% of 25-34 year olds in Ireland had obtained higher education. This is higher than the average for OECD which is 44% and 4 percentage points higher than the UK. 

The Irish figure is the highest in Europe and the fourth highest in the world with Korea, the Russian Federation and Canada slightly ahead of Ireland. 

The findings can be found in the OECD’s Education at Glance 2019 report which examines the performance of education systems in almost 50 developed countries across the globe.

In contrast, the report ranks Ireland low in comparison to other developed countries for investment in second-level education as a percentage of total GDP; with Ireland only investing 3.5% of GDP in primary, secondary and tertiary level education.

Irish class sizes are also larger than most developed countries with 25 students per class on average at primary level compared to 21 students across OECD countries. 

Degree-holders in Ireland, earn a significant wage premium compared to other OECD countries. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree in Ireland earn on average 81% more than those who only completed secondary level education. 

Students in Ireland are also less likely to drop out of their degree courses compared to other countries.

Employment in Ireland

Holding a tertiary qualification in Ireland significantly increases your chances of being employed compared to upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education.The report indicates that 85% of Ireland’s tertiary-educated adults are employed. This figure is the same as the average across the OECD countries.

Skills Shortages 

OECD has warned that if the demand for tertiary or higher education continues to rise at the current rate, further expansion will only be sustainable if it matches the supply of graduates with labour and social needs. 

Around 84% of Irish organisations are currently battling skills shortages for new talent compared to 81% last year. Industries such as construction, ICT, science and hospitality are experiencing difficulty sourcing the right talent for their roles. 

Source: The Irish Times, OECD