Education at a Glance 2019: a look into different educational systems around Europe


This year’s OECD report shows that tertiary education offers individuals a real advantage on the labour market. It also explores some of the factors behind teacher shortages, revealing that gender inequality and pay discrepancies within the education sector are a big part of the problem.

Every year the OECD publishes its Education at a Glance report, which offers an overview on education systems in the OECD member states. This year’s Education at a Glance report was published on 10 September 2019 and presents detailed information and data on all levels of education, with a strong focus on higher education. The report covers all OECD countries, as well as the partner countries Brazil, the Russian Federation, Argentina, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

The report collects and analyses data on topics such as:

  • the output of educational institutions and the impact of learning
  • access to education as well as the participation and the process
  • financial resources invested in education
  • the role of teachers and the working environment
  • the organisation of schools

One focus is the impact of higher education on individual trajectories. The findings show that the employment rate among adults with a tertiary education is about 9% higher than for those with only upper secondary education. When it comes to earnings, the impact of higher education is even greater. Tertiary education leads to a salary that is on average 57% higher. Furthermore, an increase in funding over the last 10 years has supported the expansion of tertiary education in many OECD member states.

However, some degrees are more popular than others. The report shows that sectors with high demand, such as engineering or computer science, struggle to find skilled workers. Only 14% of graduates earned a degree in engineering or manufacturing and only 4% chose a degree in information and communication technologies.

Turning to the teaching profession, the report offers interesting insights in the shortage of teachers that many OECD countries are experiencing. For example, the data in the report shows that only 10% of primary and secondary teachers are under 30. This means that the governments need to invest in the profession to boost recruitment and retention and offset the retirement of older workers.

One problem affecting the attractiveness of the teaching profession, as stated in the report, is the discrepancies in salary levels. In most OECD countries a teacher’s salary increases with the level of education in which they teach. In Belgium or Norway for example, primary teachers earn up to 30% less than their colleagues in upper secondary education, even when they have the same experience. This situation is particularly worrying because 83% of the teaching staff at primary level are female in the countries analysed by the report. At secondary level 60% are still women, but at tertiary level only 40%.

According to the OECD, the reason for the high proportion of female teachers in the primary sector could be an economic one. It is shown that male teachers earn less than men with a similar level of education in other professions. Women on the other hand earn virtually the same as other women with the same level of education in different fields. In this context, the ETUCE once again stresses how important it is to address gender segregation within the teaching profession. We also emphasise the critical role that education trade unions play in this process.

Take a look at the full OECD report.