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Germany's skills snapshot

Germany’s population is ageing rapidly. Therefore, more needs to be done to better utilise its skills potential by encouraging women to combine family and work, in addition to encouraging older workers to remain longer in the workforce. We must also ensure that adults keep learning throughout their working lives.

Key findings

Developing the relevant skills

  • How well does Germany’s education system perform? In the 2009 PISA tests of 15-year-olds, Germany performs slightly above the OECD average in reading (rank 19) and well above average in mathematics (rank 16) and science (rank 12).1
  • Does Germany invest enough in education and training? Germany spent 5.3% of its annual income on education in 2009, compared to the OECD average of 6.2%.2
  • How much are German citizens undertaking further education? In 2008, 43% of German citizens participated in continuing non-formal education, compared to the OECD average of 34%.3
  • How equal is access to opportunities for further training in Germany? In 2007, 63% of people aged 25-64 with a tertiary-level education participated in formal and/or non-formal education, compared with 20% for people in the same age group with below upper secondary education.4 
  • Should more be done to prevent skills shortages? In the context of a small decline in unemployment in Germany between 2007 and 2011,5 some 40% of Germany’s employers reported recruitment difficulties in 2011, compared to 27% in 2007 6,7.

Supplying skills

  • Is there scope to improve skill utilisation in Germany through strengthening labour force participation? In 2011, 87.7% of the people 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 82% in 2011 (OECD average 71%).9
  • To what extent are Germany’s older workers supplying their skills to the labour market? In 2011, 64.1% of people aged 55 to 64 were in the labour force, compared to an OECD average of 57.8%.10

Using skills

  • How smooth is the transition from school to work for Germany’s youth? The employment rate of German youth in 2011 was 48%, compared with the OECD average of 39.3%.11 In 2011, the unemployment rate of German youth was 8.6%, a relatively low rate compared with the OECD average of 16.2%.12
  • Are the qualifications of Germany’s workers well matched with the requirements of their jobs? In 2005. 17% of Germany’s workers were over-qualified for their jobs (against the OECD average of 25%), and 27% 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

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