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close this bookThe Transition of Youth from School to Work: Issues and Policies (IIEP, 2000, 188 p.)
close this folderChapter I. From initial education to working life: making transition work by Marianne Durand-Drouhin and Richard Sweet
View the documentIntroduction
View the document1. The purposes and outcomes of the OECD Thematic Review
View the document2. Changes in young people's transition to work during the 1990s
View the document3. The transitions are taking longer
View the document4. Changing patterns of participation in education and training
View the document5. The key features of effective transition systems
View the document6. Well-organized pathways that connect initial education with work, further study or both
View the document7. Workplace experience combined with education
View the document8. Tightly-knit safety nets for those at risk
View the document9. Good information and guidance
View the document10. Effective institutions and processes
View the document11. No single model - what counts is giving priority to youth

2. Changes in young people's transition to work during the 1990s

During the 1990s young people's transition from initial education to working life appears to have improved in a number of ways. Participation in initial education has risen, although in some countries rates of under-qualification remain high among young adults. In absolute terms the proportion of teenagers who are unemployed is quite small in many OECD countries, particularly when only non-student job seekers are taken into account. On the other hand, in many countries young adults are significantly more likely to experience unemployment than are teenagers, and the problems of those young adults who have low qualifications are particularly high. Since the mid-1970s there has been a significant reduction in youth to adult unemployment ratios across OECD countries. This suggests an improved ability of young people to compete for work with adults, perhaps in large part due to the rising education levels of new labour market entrants. The rate of improvement, however, was much greater prior to the 1990s than during the 1990s. During the 1990s the overall disadvantage suffered by teenagers in the labour market increased slightly across countries participating in the Thematic Review, perhaps as a function of the growing concentration of early school leavers among those teenagers in the labour force. Among young adults, however, there has been no obvious trend for their labour market situation to worsen relative to that of adults. The incidence of long-term youth unemployment showed no overall tendency to rise during the 1990s, although there are some countries participating in the Thematic Review in which it has grown. On the other hand, in some of the Nordic countries long-term unemployment as a share of total youth unemployment fell during the 1990s.

By themselves falling youth employment rates, which have been common in OECD countries, are not a good indicator of young people's overall labour market situation, as they are associated with and often caused by rising educational participation. A more important measure is the proportion of young people who are neither in education nor in work, and this showed improvement between the mid 1980s and the late 1990s.

In virtually all countries young workers experienced declines in earnings relative to older workers during the 1990s. In some countries there is evidence that this has been associated with an increasing concentration of young workers in low-skilled jobs and in low-paying industries. This is a particularly worrying development, as the age group is becoming increasingly well educated and well qualified.