Career Ready? How schools can better prepare young people for working life in the era of Covid-19 (OECD)


The paper reviews academic literature that analyses national longitudinal datasets evidencing teenage career-related indicators of better than expected adult employment outcomes. It then draws on PISA2018 data to see how countries compare and explores variations by social characteristics. The analysis is influenced by Arjan Apparadui’s conception of the Capacity to Aspire, and sees indicators as evidence of young people’s access to the resources that allow them to demonstrate critical agency through their transitions.

The paper is a follow up to Dream Jobs? Teenagers’ career aspirations and the future of work produced by the OECD in collaboration with Education and Employers and published in Davos on the 22nd January 2020 during the World Economic Forum.

Abstract: The focus of this working paper is on how secondary schools can optimise young people’s preparation for adult employment at a time of extreme labour market turbulence. By reviewing academic analysis of national longitudinal datasets, it is possible to identify indicators of comparative adult success. How teenagers (i) think about their futures in work and what they do to (ii) explore and (iii) experience workplaces within and outside of schools is consistently associated with better than expected employment outcomes in adulthood. Data-driven career guidance will take such indicators into account within delivery. Analysis of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 illustrates substantial variation in the extent of such career readiness between and within countries. Variation in career readiness is particularly associated with disadvantage. More effective education systems will ensure schools systematically address inequalities in teenage access to information and support in preparing for working life.

The paper is limited in that it the current academic literature is overwhelmingly from the US, UK and Australia.  In a new project also launching this week, the OECD will broaden the evidence base and create new data-driven tools for policy makers and practitioners to make use of universal indicators of career readiness.

Read the full report.