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France’s skills snapshot

France’s population is ageing rapidly. Therefore, more needs to be done to better utilise its skills potential by encouraging older workers to remain longer in the workforce and improving the transition from school to work for younger people.

Key findings

Developing the relevant skills

  • How well does France’s education system perform? In the 2009 PISA tests of 15-year-olds, France performs slightly above the OECD average in reading (rank 22) and mathematics (rank 23) and slightly below average in science (rank 27).1
  • Does France invest enough in education and training? France spent 6.3% of its annual income on education in 2009, compared to the OECD average of 6.2%.2
  • How much are French citizens undertaking further education? In 2006, 32% of French citizensparticipated in continuing non-formal education compared to the OECD average of 34%.3
  • How equal is access to opportunities for further training in France? In 2006, 57% of people aged 25-64 with a tertiary-level education participated in formal and/or non-formal education, compared with 19% for people in the same age group with below upper secondary education.4
  • Should more be done to prevent skills shortages? Only 20% of France’s employers reported recruitment difficulties in 2011, compared to 40% in 2007.5,6 reflecting a decline in labour demand as a result of the economic and financial crisis and a rise in unemployment between 2007 and 2011.7

Supplying skills

  • Is there scope to improve skill utilisation in France through strengthening labour force participation? In 2011, 88% of the population aged between 25 and 54 were in the labour force, compared to an OECD average of 81%.8 The participation rate for prime-age women (aged 25-54) is above the OECD average at 83% in 2011 (OECD average 71%).9
  • To what extent are France’s older workers supplying their skills to the labour market? In 2011, only 44% of people aged 55 to 64 were in the labour force, compared to an OECD average of 58%.10

Using skills

  • How smooth is the transition from school to work for France’s youth? The employment rate of French youth in 2011 was 29.9%, compared with the OECD average of 39.3%.11 In 2011, the unemployment rate of France’s youth was 22.1%, a relatively high rate compared with the OECD average of 16.2%.12
  • Are the qualifications of France’s workers well matched with the requirements of their jobs? In 2005, 20.2% of France’s workers were over-qualified for their jobs (against the OECD average of 25%), and 23% were under-qualified (against the OECD average of 22%).13 Over-qualified (under-qualified) workers are those who have a higher (lower) qualification than the most common qualification of all other workers in the same occupation.

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 boosting skills for jobs and well-being (in French)


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