2010 aim that 85% of young people will have completed at least upper secondary education is unlikely to be met
Percentage of the population aged 20-24 having completed at least upper secondary education in 2008

(click image for full size)     Data Source: EU LFS, Eurostat.

The European Union set itself the ambitious goal that by 2010, 85% of 20-24 year olds should have achieved at least upper secondary education. Previous Statistics of the Month have shown that more than 50% of upper-secondary graduates come from vocational streams in 13 of 26 available countries. This is linked to the attractiveness of education, including vocational education and training, a subject dealt with in Cedefops 2008 Policy Report Continuity, Consolidation and Change.

This indicator expresses the proportion of people aged between 20-24 that stated they have achieved an education level of at least upper secondary level. This can also be broken down by gender, and could be complemented by employment rate indicators from the Labour Force Survey that look at the likelihood of employment by level of education and age.

Key points

  • While the proportion of young people with at least upper secondary education has been steadily increasing in the EU as a whole, rising to 78.5% in 2008, this will fall short of the target the EU set itself. The European average conceals national differences, which in some cases are significant.
  • Commitment to basic education is strong in Eastern Europe, with five out of eight countries having  already exceeded the EU level target of 85%. Slovakia and the Czech Republic lead the way: 92% of 20-24 year olds have at least an upper secondary level of education.
  • There is a large gap between the three countries with the lowest rates and the group above. Spain, Portugal and Malta have a maximum of 6 in 10 young people with at least upper secondary education. This situation which has been improving over the decade in the latter two, but is actually deteriorating in Spain.

Note: the data are based on Eurostats Labour Force Survey (EU LFS), and are subject to its methodology.

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