How Difficult is it to Move from School to Work?

About the study

This brief overview of OECD education indicators highlights the difficult transition process from school to work for young people in Canada and other OECD member countries. The analysis focuses on the proportion of young people who are “NEET” (not in employment, education or training), as this is an important part of measuring young people’s labour market activity.


What can be learned from this study?

• Current economic conditions, the labour market, school-work arrangements, demographics and cultural role expectations are the main factors impacting young people transitioning from school to work. This study suggests that young people may be better off returning to school and pursuing higher educational qualifications to improve skills and gain experience if they are not able to find work in the current labour market.

• Compared to most other OECD countries, Canada ranked closely to the OECD average of young people in education and employment. In 2011, 43% were employed, 44% were in education, 6% were unemployed NEET and 8% were inactive NEET (14% NEET in total) among 15-29 year-olds in Canada. These are close to the OECD averages where 37% were in employment, 47% were in school, and 16% were either unemployed (6.5%) or inactive (9.3%) NEET. A NEET rate under 10% shows that young people generally make smooth transitions between school and work.

• Educational attainment is associated with school-work transition. Young people who attained higher levels of education experienced smoother transitions from school to work and were less likely to be NEET.

• Offering work-study programs such as vocational education can help young people make easier transitions from school to work. Countries offering work-study programs usually fare better than those countries without work-study programs. Despite the economic crisis, countries with work-study programs maintained a lower NEET rate (14%) than the OECD average (16%), although the effect was not highly significant.

• Canada does not appear to be affected by gender roles and family formation, as NEET rates for both 15-29 year-old men and women were equal at around 13%. For men, this is comparable to the OECD average, while Canada’s NEET rate for women is much lower than the OECD average.

• Based on trends from 1997 to 2011, fewer young people between 15-29 years are employed while a greater percentage are in education or training. The NEET rate has climbed in OECD countries since 2008.


What method(s) did the study use?

Analysis of OECD Education Indicators measuring educational and employment outcomes of 15-29 year-olds in member countries.