OECD report states: Educational level of young Finns near top world level
The latest edition of Education at a Glance, an annual indicator report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), was published on Tuesday 18 September. The report shows that Finns in the age group 15–19 are actively taking part in education. About 90 per cent of the age group studies full-time or part-time.
Education at a Glance 2007 uses a wide range of indicators to describe the current state of
education, both in the OECD countries and in some other countries, such as Russia, Brazil, Chile,
and Israel. The report data are primarily from 2005.
Young Finns attaining world-class educational levels – education of working-age population still needs improvement
The working-age population (between 25 and 64) has a lower educational level in Finland than in many other countries. In Finland, 79 per cent of the working-age population have a secondary degree, whereas for example, in the Czech Republic, 90 per cent have this qualification. Finland places tenth in the OECD countries in this respect. Countries with a higher percentage of secondary degrees among the working-age population include Denmark, Germany, Sweden, the USA, and two countries outside the OECD: Estonia and Russia.
When it comes to degrees in higher education (university or polytechnic degrees), 18 per cent of the Finnish working-age population have such a degree, placing Finland at number 15 on the list of OECD nations. Countries with higher percentages include Denmark, Sweden, Japan, Korea, the UK, the USA, and Norway. If vocational degrees are included in the figures, this brings the educational level of the Finnish working-age population closer to the world’s top figures.
In Finland, the age group 25–34 has a higher education level than the working-age population as a whole. In this age group, 89 per cent have completed a post-compulsory qualification, the sixth highest of the OECD countries. In addition, 27 per cent of the age group has completed a higher education degree, putting Finland in 11th place on the list of OECD countries. The education level of the Finnish working-age population will probably catch up with the worldwide top figures after the big post-war generation has retired.
Finnish educational expenditure per student just over OECD average
Educational expenditure in Finland is at about the average OECD level. In absolute terms, the highest amount of money per student is spent in the USA, Switzerland, and Norway. In Finland, educational expenditure as a percentage of GDP is somewhat below the OECD average. Measured in relative terms, the countries that spend the most on education are Israel, Iceland, and the USA.
Although educational expenditure in Finland is average for a western European country, it ranks very highly in terms of efficiency. High numbers of young people in Finland choose to study, and grades for compulsory education, for instance, are among the best in the world.
Young Finns participate actively in education
Almost 90 per cent of Finns aged 15–19 study either full- or part-time. The percentage of young people who study has been growing steadily since 1995, when some 80 per cent of this age group was studying. Greece and Belgium had the highest proportion of students for this demographic, where well over 90 per cent were students.
As the workforce declines, Finland may face a challenge due to the fact that about 43 per cent of Finns in the age group 20–29 are studying full- or part-time. This is clearly the highest percentage for this age group in the OECD countries. Next come Denmark and Sweden, where students in the same age group are under 40 per cent, compared with an OECD average of about 25 per cent in 2005. In 1995, students in the age group 20–29 in Finland still accounted for less than 30 per cent, but the figure had reached 38 per cent by 2000. The figures for Finland may be high due to the way the indicator is calculated, as percentages are raised if individual students have obtained the right to pursue more than one degree.
Basic education gets top results with a minimum of teaching
In Finland, children aged 7–14 spend less time in organised instruction in school (compulsory lessons in accordance with approved curricula) than in other OECD countries. The annual formal teaching time for the 7–14 age group in Finland came to a total of about 5,400 hours, compared with over 8,000 hours in countries such as the Netherlands and Italy. After Finland, children in Slovenia and Norway spend less time in school than others. Despite the shorter teaching time, Finland regularly achieves top results in studies such as the PISA survey.
Education level impacts on young people’s risk for exclusion
Statistics indicate that education level is a clear factor in reducing young people’s risk of exclusion. Some 14 per cent of people aged 25-29 in Finland who lack a secondary education are unemployed and excluded from education, compared with just 5 per cent of those who have a secondary or higher education qualification. Just over 10 per cent of people aged 20-24 who lack post-compulsory education are unemployed and excluded from education. The percentage of those unemployed and excluded from education was 5 per cent less for those in the same age group who have completed secondary studies.
Finnish teachers earn the OECD average
In a comparison of salary levels, Finnish teachers are at about the OECD average. The starting salary of a Finnish class teacher in proportion to purchasing power was well below half of that of the best-paid teachers in OECD countries (who reside in Luxembourg). However, a Finnish teacher’s salary was still more than five times that of the lowest-paid teachers in the study (those working in Poland). In the Nordic countries, Danish and Norwegian primary school teachers are paid better than their Finnish colleagues, but in the higher grades of primary school and in secondary school, Finnish teachers’ salaries are almost at the same level.
Teachers’ salaries in Finland have shown more favourable development in recent years than in most of the other countries included in the survey. Starting salaries have risen by more than one third since 1996, and Hungary is the only country with a faster growth in teaching salaries.
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For more information please contact
- Matti Kyrö, Counsellor of Education (National Board of Education), tel. +358 9 7747 7124
The publication Education at a Glance 2007 (ISBN 978-92-64-03287-3) is available on order from Suomalainen Kirjakauppa: email@example.com, tel: +358 9 852 7907.