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Ireland's skills snapshot


Developing the relevant skills

  • How well does Ireland’s education system perform? In the 2009 PISA tests of 15-year-olds, Ireland performs above the OECD average in reading (rank 21) and science (rank 20), and below the OECD average in mathematics (rank 32).1
  • Does Ireland invest enough in education and training? Ireland spent 6.3% of its annual income on education in 2009, compared to the OECD average of 6.2%.2
  • How much are Irish citizens undertaking further education? In 2008, 23% of Irish citizensparticipated in continuing non-formal education compared to the OECD average of 34%.3
  • Should more be done to prevent skills shortages? The unemployment rate rose between 2007 and 2011,4 but only 5% of Ireland’s employers reported recruitment difficulties in 2011, down from 17% in 2007.5,6 

Supplying skills

  • Is there scope to improve skill utilisation in Ireland through strengthening labour force participation? In 2011, 80% of 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 slightly above the OECD average at 72% in 2011 (OECD average 71%).9   
  • To what extent are Ireland’s older workers supplying their skills to the labour market? In 2011, 55.3% 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 Ireland’s youth? The employment rate of Irish youth in 2011 was 28.2%, compared with the OECD average of 39.3%.11 In 2011, the unemployment rate of Ireland’s youth was 29.4%, a relatively high rate compared with the OECD average of 16.2%.12
  • Are the qualifications of Ireland’s workers well matched with the requirements of their jobs? In 2005, 26% of Ireland’s workers were over-qualified for their jobs (against theOECD average of 25%), and 33% 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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