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Mexico’s skills snapshot

Mexico’s future growth prospects will depend heavily on how well it manages and develops the skills of its workforce. Finding ways to optimise the use of Mexico’s human resources, particularly women and its young people, will be key to addressing this challenge.

Key findings

Developing the relevant skills

  • How well does Mexico’s education system perform? In the 2009 PISA tests of 15-year-olds, Mexico is among the lower performing OECD countries in reading (rank 48), mathematics (rank 49) and science (rank 50).1
  • Does Mexico invest enough in education and training? Mexico spent 6.2% of its annual income on education in 2009, compared to the OECD average of 6.2%.2 
  • How equal is access to opportunities for further training in Mexico? A high share of Mexican workers are employed informally which may restrict their access to training and hence to better-paid and less precarious jobs.
  • Should more be done to prevent skills shortages? Despite a rise in unemployment between 2007 and 2011,4 some 42% of Mexico’s employers reported recruitment difficulties in 2011. Although this represents a considerable decline from 82% in 2007,5,6 such a high rate suggests that still more should be done in Mexico both through the education system and by employers themselves in providing training to meet skill requirements in the labour market.

Supplying skills

  • Is there scope to improve skill utilisation in Mexico through strengthening labour force participation? In 2011, 73% of the people aged between 25 and 54 were in the labour force, compared to an OECD average of 81%.7 However, the participation rate for prime-age women is very low (at 53.9% in 2011, this rate was the 2nd lowest in the OECD area, second only to Turkey).8   
  • To what extent are Mexico’s older workers supplying their skills to the labour market? In 2011, 55.4% of people aged 55 to 64 were in the labour force, compared to an OECD average of 57.8%.9  Of workers aged 55-59 in 2005, only 45% were still working for the same employer in 2010 in Mexico compared with 60% in Sweden.

Using skills

  • How smooth is the transition from school to work for Mexico’s youth? The employment rate of Mexico’s youth in 2011 was 42.3%, just above the OECD average of 39.3%10 The unemployment rate of Mexico’s youth was 9.5% in 2010, a relatively low rate compared with the OECD average of 16.7%.11 However, over 50% of working youth were in informal employment and thus at risk of working in precarious jobs with little social protection.
  • Are the qualifications of Mexico’s workers well matched with the requirements of their jobs? In 2005, 40% of Mexico’s workers were over-qualified for their jobs (against the OECD average of 25%), and 13% were under-qualified (against the OECD average of 22%).12 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 Spanish)


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