Fields of Study across OECD – Disturbing facts

This edition of Education at a Glance focuses on fields of study, analysing various indicators through the prism of young adults’ career choices. Results show that the most common field of study in which tertiary students enrol is business, administration and law, whereas science, technology, engineering and mathematics, commonly referred to as the STEM fields, are less attractive: approximately 23% of new entrants into tertiary education select to study business, administration and law compared to 16% in engineering, construction and manufacturing, and 6% in natural sciences, mathematics and statistics. The field of information and communication technologies (ICT) in particular attracts less than 5% of new entrants, the smallest share to a field of study, yet yields the highest employment rate on average across OECD countries – even exceeding 90% in about a third of them – signalling a shortage of supply.

However, not all science-related fields have high employment outcomes. Although there has been a recent push to produce more scientists in many OECD countries, the employment rate of graduates from the fields of natural science, statistics and mathematics is more comparable to the lower employment prospects of arts and humanities graduates than to the higher rate enjoyed by engineers and ICT specialists.

In addition, the persistent differences in the way men and women select their future careers are disturbing. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the teaching profession, where more than seven out of ten teachers, on average across OECD countries, are women – and there is no sign that this gender gap is narrowing among young adults entering the field of education. The opposite is observed in science and engineering where men still outnumber women. Results from the PISA 2015 assessment indicate that boys’ and girls’ career paths start to diverge well before they actually select a career. On average across OECD countries, although girls outperform boys in the PISA science test, boys are more likely than girls to envision themselves in a science-related career when they are 30. Gender differences are even starker when young adults select a field of study at the tertiary level: close to three out of four engineering students and four out of five ICT students are men.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at  Education at a Glance 2017 – Statistics – OECD iLibrary


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