China flat China (People's Republic of)


China's skills snapshot


Developing the relevant skills

  • How well does China’s education system perform? In the 2009 PISA tests of 15-year-olds, Shangai-China is  the top performing country in the OECD area, scoring first in reading (rank 1), mathematics (rank 1) and science (rank 1). Hong-Kong China is also among the top performing countries, scoring significantly above the OECD average in reading (rank 4), mathematics (rank 3) and science (rank 3).  Chinese Taipei scores above the OECD average in reading (rank 23), mathematics (rank 5) and science (rank 13). Macao-China performs below the OECD average in reading (rank 28), whereas it performs above the OECD average in mathematics (rank 12) and science (rank 18).1
  • Should more be done to prevent skills shortages? In 2011, 24% of China’s employers reported recruitment difficulties in 2011, up from 19% in 2007. 2,3 This suggests that more should be done in China both through the education system and by employers themselves in providing training to improve the supply of skills required in the labour market.

Supplying skills

  • Is there scope to improve skill utilisation in China through strengthening labour force participation? In 2010, the labour force participation rate of China was 70%.4 The participation rate for prime-age women (aged 25-54) was 86% in 2009.5
  • Is there scope to improve skill utilisation among China’s youth? The participation rate for China’s youth (aged 15/16-24) was approximately 60% in 2009.6
  • To what extent are China’s older workers supplying their skills to the labour market? In 2009, 56.5% of people aged 55 to 64 were in the labour force.7         

Using skills

  • How smooth is the transition from school to work for China’s youth? In 2012, the unemployment rate of China’s youth was 7.6%, a relatively low rate compared with the OECD average of 17.1%.8


Key recommendations from the OECD Skills Strategy

A country can develop the relevant skills by encouraging and enabling people to learn throughout life; fostering international mobility of skilled people to fill skills gaps; and promoting cross-border skills policies.

A country can activate the supply of skills by encouraging people to offer their skills to the labour market and retaining skilled people in the labour market.

A country can put skills to effective use by creating a better match between people’s skills and the requirements of their job and increasing the demand for high-level skills.

For more information, see the:

OECD Policy Map on Skills | OECD Skills Strategy | Skills Strategy: Overview

Watch this video on strong performers in Shanghai, China


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