Education is worth the effort, in the labour market and in life. Employment rates and earnings increase as an adult’s level of education and skills increases; the labour market still regards a diploma or degree as the primary indication of a worker’s skills. Increasing numbers of young adults are pursuing tertiary education; the ‘first-generation’ tertiary-educated adults share similar employment rates with those whose parents had also completed tertiary education: being the first in a family to attain tertiary education is in no way a disadvantage. The entry rate into bachelor’s degree programmes is much higher than the entry rate into master’s programmes, there are more opportunities in the labour market and higher earnings for adults with a master’s degree. The benefits of education aren’t only financial: more highly educated adults tend to be more healthy and more engaged in the world around them.
Inequities persist. Women are still underrepresented in certain fields of education (such as STEM), and less likely to be employed (the gender gap is narrower among tertiary-educated young adults).
Public spending on education fell in many OECD countries between 2010 and 2012 (delayed reaction to the crisis of 2008). The crisis had a direct impact on primary and secondary teachers’ salaries. Salaries are uncompetitive compared to those of similarly educated workers; this will make it harder to attract the best candidates to the teaching profession.