No school, no work: Young see toll from recession

Radhika Sivadi

2 min read ·


PARIS (AP) — Recessions around the world have pushed a growing number of young people out of education and out of the workforce, according to a report Tuesday that warned of growing danger for "the traditional pathway from school to work or family life."

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — which groups the world's most developed countries — found that 16 percent of people aged 15 to 29 are neither in school nor working. The report was based on the available latest figures from 2008 to 2010 — and the OECD says those trends are likely still rising due to more recent economic turmoil.

The problem is particularly severe in countries most affected by the European debt crisis — especially Ireland and Spain — and the report saw little relief in the years ahead for the next generation of young people.

The typical 15-year-old looking ahead 15 more years could expect seven years of education, 5.5 years of work, one year unemployed and 1.3 years out of the workforce entirely. Although some in that last category were raising families, the OECD said, the high unemployment figures among young adults, especially in countries with low birthrates such as Spain and Italy, indicate a far graver problem.

According to the report, the prospect of unemployment among the young is less dismal for those with more education. It found that higher education reduced joblessness by 8 percentage points among 20-24 year- olds and 6.7 percentage points among 25-29 year-olds.

The report found one major reversal: Young women, for the first time, are more likely than young men to finish high school, are outpacing men in entering university-level education, and are catching up even in vocational schools. The gap was most pronounced in Iceland and Portugal, where women's high school graduation rates were higher than men's by 20 percentage points or more.

Teenage girls in OECD countries were also more ambitious than boys when it came to their future careers: They were significantly more likely to expect jobs in high-status, professional careers. But relatively few envisioned themselves in engineering or computing, both fields that remain dominated by men.

Radhika Sivadi