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Spain's skills snapshot

Spain’s top priority must be to tackle high youth unemployment by reinforcing its efforts, first, to ensure that youth leave school with the skills required by employers and, second, to remove labour market barriers preventing young people from finding rewarding and productive jobs.

Key findings

Developing the relevant skills

  • How well does Spain’s education system perform? In the 2009 PISA tests of 15-year-olds, Spain performs below the OECD average in reading (rank 33), mathematics (rank 35) and science (rank 36).1
  • Does Spain invest enough in education and training? Spain spent 5.6% of its annual income on education in 2009, compared to the OECD average of 6.2%.2
  • How much are Spanish citizens undertaking further education? In 2008, 27% of Spanish citizensparticipated in continuing non-formal education compared to the OECD average of 34%.3
  • How equal is access to opportunities for further training in Spain? In 2007, 51% of people aged 25-64 with a tertiary-level education participated in formal and/or non-formal education, compared with 17% for people in the same age group with below upper secondary education.4
  • Should more be done to prevent skills shortages? As the unemployment rate more than doubled between 2007 and 2011,5 only 11% of Spain’s employers reported recruitment difficulties in 2011, down from 33% in 2007.6,7

Supplying skills

  • Is there scope to improve skill utilisation in Spain through strengthening labour force participation? In 2011, 86% 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 above the OECD average at 79.4% in 2011 (OECD average 71%).9
  • To what extent are Spain’s older workers supplying their skills to the labour market? In 2011, 52.3% 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 Spain’s youth? The employment rate of Spain youth in 2011 was 21.9%, compared with the OECD average of 39.3%.11 In 2011, the unemployment rate of Spanish youth was 46.5%, a high rate compared with the OECD average of 16.2%.12 More must be done to tackle Spain’s dual labour market and to help youth gain access to more stable, rewarding and productive jobs.
  • Are the qualifications of Spain’s workers well matched with the requirements of their jobs? In 2005, 33% of Spain’s workers were over-qualified for their jobs (against OECD average of 25%), and 31% 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 Spanish)


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