The OECD’s ‘Society at a Glance 2016 - A Spotlight on Youth’ study, which focussed on young people who neither study nor work, found that in Portugal in 2014, one in every three youngsters quit their studies before completing them.
The new report found the situation is more worrying among boys than girls, with 40 percent of male students dropping out, in comparison to 30 percent of female students.
Throughout the EU one in every six youths aged between 25 and 34 have not finished secondary schooling, with the poorer-educated youngsters being the worst affected by financial crises, the study warned.
“This is particularly true for Portugal where the majority of students aged 15 to 29 who are unemployed have low levels of education.”
The research further found that in Portugal, as in Greece, Italy and Hungary, only one in every 20 students, or four percent, work.
On a general note, the OECD stressed that young people who leave school at 16 with low skills are facing increasing challenges in finding a job, and their chances may not improve even if the economy picks up.
Society at a Glance 2016 says that about 40 million young people in OECD countries, equivalent to 15 per cent of youth aged 15 to 29, are not in education, employment or training, so-called NEETs. Two-thirds of them are not even looking for work. While up to 40 percent of all youth, experience a period of inactivity or unemployment over a four-year period, for half of them this period will last a year or more and may lead to discouragement and exclusion.
Almost one in ten jobs held by workers aged under-30 were destroyed during the crisis. In Spain, Greece and Ireland, the number of employed youth halved between 2007 and 2014. Across the OECD, despite the recovery, the youth employment rate has stagnated since 2010 and today is still below pre-crisis levels.
“It is getting harder and harder for young people with low skills to find a job, let alone a steady job in today’s workplace,” said Stefano Scarpetta, OECD Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs. “Unless more is done to improve opportunities in education and training for everyone, there is a growing risk of an increasingly divided society.”
Fighting early school leaving is essential, says the OECD. Governments must ensure that young people obtain at least an upper-secondary qualification so they can continue in education or gain vocational skills. Despite progress, one in six 25-34 year olds in OECD countries left school before upper secondary.
Improving the quality of vocational training and working more closely with employers to create apprenticeships is also key. More countries should offer financial incentives to firms to create enough apprenticeship places, especially for the most disadvantaged youth.
The biennial Society at a Glance gives an overview of social trends and policy developments in the 35 OECD countries as well as in Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.