Spanish youngsters lack workplace computer skills, says OECD

Developed countries need to do more to tailor education to suit job market, says report

Students revising ahead of university entrance exams.
Students revising ahead of university entrance exams.EFE

Computer skills are increasingly important when it comes to finding a job. But according to a survey published last week by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), young Spaniards and Italians are particularly disadvantaged in this field compared to youngsters from other advanced economies: almost 50 percent of Spaniards aged between 16 and 29 lack experience in the use of computers in their jobs, says the OECD.

Among the 22 countries surveyed by the OECD – which include the majority of EU member states, along with South Korea, Norway, Australian, Japan, the United States and Canada – only Italy was ranked lower than Spain. At the other extreme is South Korea, where just 25 percent of under-30s are not sufficiently experienced in using computers in the workplace. But when the question is about experience of computers in daily life, and not in work, Spain’s score comes in closer to those from the rest of the developed world.

The report looks at the situation of the more than 35 million young people that neither work or study

The data is compiled in the Skills Outlook 2015 report, which was presented in Berlin in May by Ángel Gurría, the secretary general of the OECD, an organization that represents the 34 most-developed economies on the planet. The report looks at the situation of the more than 35 million young people within member states that neither work or study, and proposes a series of measures to improve the transition from school to the workplace. Despite the figure having fallen compared to 2013, when 39 million young people were neither studying nor working, it is still higher than in 2008, before the current economic crisis began.

The figures are particularly worrying for countries such as Spain and Greece, where, in 2013, more than 25 percent of young people weren’t in work or studying. And the OECD provides another worrying statistic: around half of all young people not in work or studying (20 million) are off the radar of their countries’ education systems or labor markets, and are marginalized in society. That is to say, they are people under the age of 30 condemned to a kind of civil death before they have been able to contribute to society. The OECD points out that these figures are worrying not just from an individual point of view, but also represent a failure for society as a whole, as well as being an economic burden on the country, which receives no return on the investment spent on their education.

“Dealing with this matter is not just a moral imperative, but also one of economic necessity,” said Gurría at the presentation of the report. Regarding the data on young Spanish people’s computer abilities, the secretary general of the organization said this was a fact that “is whispering in our ears,” and called for action to deal with it.

The survey reflects, for example, that 10 percent of recent university graduates have poor reading skills

The report shows that young workers use their skills less than older employees. The survey reflects, for example, that 10 percent of recent university graduates have poor reading skills, and that 14 percent have difficulty in managing figures. Among those who leave school without any qualifications, more than 40 percent have problems with reading and arithmetic.

Young people from the OECD countries are twice as likely to be unemployed than the over-30s. The survey focuses on the problems of those between the ages of 16 and 29, and their difficulties in applying the skills they have learned at school at work. And even when they do make it into the labor market, they face serous difficulties: one in four young people have short-term employment contracts, which limits their ability to learn new skills or to take advantage of other long-term opportunities from staying in the same job.

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