Education at a Glance covers 35 countries, including 21 EU countries and looks at what is spent on education, how education systems operate and what results are achieved.
"The report reinforces the Commission's own analysis and the policy lines we are pursuing with Europe 2020,” says EU education commissioner AndroullaVassiliou. “It confirms the value – I would say the necessity – of investing in education, particularly during the economic downturn. Young people with low levels of education have been hardest hit, with unemployment rates for those that had not completed upper secondary school rising by almost five percentage points in EU countries between 2008 and 2009.”
The EU's Europe 2020 strategy seeks to achieve a benchmark of 40% of young people with university-level qualifications. Currently, the figure for 25-34 year-olds is 34%, with Ireland leading the EU at a 45%.
The report corroborates this view, finding that less-educated workers were hit hardest by the global financial crisis. Compared to their university-trained counterparts, those who had not finished upper-secondary school education were far more likely to lose their jobs.
With demand for university-level courses rising, public resources invested in university education pay off by bringing in additional tax revenues. There are also substantial private returns – an EU citizen will gain a substantial personal increase in earnings during their working life.
More people than ever before are completing higher education, and all countries surveyed are investing significant resources into their education systems. Throughout the world, education is now at the top of personal and political agendas.
On 15 September, the Commission will launch ‘Youth on the Move’, a programme to improve the job prospects for young people and ensure they receive training relevant to their needs. This is one of the flagship initiatives of the EU’s growth and jobs plan, Europe 2020.