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Skills beyond school: Synthesis report

Based on a series of 20 country studies, this synthesis report of Skills beyond School looks at how OECD countries are responding to this growing demand for skills, and the further steps they need to succeed. The report underlines many challenges: while some countries have thriving post-secondary vocational sectors, others have found it difficult to find a place for shorter (one-or two-year) programmes in competition with better known academic qualifications. The engagement of the social partners – employers and trade unions – is as vital as it is sometimes elusive. Vocational training qualifications are sometimes outdated or lack currency in the labour market. This study identifies good practices and puts the spotlight on those countries that are making progress. Still, it argues that countries now need to step up their efforts to deliver higher quality post-secondary vocational programmes. This means programmes that integrate an element of work-based learning and foundation skills of literacy and numeracy, teachers who are well-versed in the techniques of modern industry (as well as in teaching ability), and well-prepared school and college leaders. It also implies strong qualifications (prepared with the involvement of employers), guaranteeing possession of a relevant skillset upon completion, effective career guidance for students based on good data about the labour market outcomes, and clear pathways from the vocational programmes to higher and academic education.