Spot the trends in education, skills and employment in EU neighbourhood

The Key Indicators on Education, Skills and Employment 2020 (KIESE) publication is now available on the ETF website. 

The exercise is undertaken across the ETF partner countries in South Eastern Europe and Turkey, Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and Central Asia building upon a decade of data collection. It charts the progress towards the fourth United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4), ‘Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’.

This edition includes recent information on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates, digital skills, engagement in and determinants of lifelong learning, qualifications mismatch, and labour market outcomes of senior workers.

Skills Supply

Evidence shows movement towards increasing the supply of skills available to employers. This growth has been mainly due to a higher participation of women in education, especially at tertiary level, who are outperforming men. Nevertheless, although today one in four graduates major in STEM, women remain largely under-represented.

Moreover, despite shifts in the skills profile of the workforce and the efforts of most countries working to increase the supply of high-skilled workers the occupational distribution has remained almost unchanged in the past decade.

Labour market mismatches

Labour markets are affected by several imbalances including various types of mismatches. ETF evidence shows that up to one in three workers can be mismatched, holding jobs requiring lower levels of formal qualifications.

Labour market outcomes also continue to vary largely by age, educational attainment or gender, with young people, the lower-qualified and women very often penalised. The gender gap has not narrowed down in the past decade.

Vocational education and training

For vocational education and training graduates there has been a good progress over the past decade, and they can now enjoy similar employment patterns to their counterparts in higher education pathways. VET programmes remain effective in developing skills and ensuring a smooth and successful transition to the labour market.


Schooling and learning don’t always go hand in hand and the time spent in school may translate unevenly into learning. In one third of the partner countries, the gap can be as high as four years (the typical length of an educational level), suggesting a loss in human capital.

At the end of compulsory schooling, in two-thirds of the partner countries, at least one in two students aged 15 lack the foundations skills with progress in tackling underachievement in key competences limited in most countries.

Age, education and working status are all determinants of engagement in lifelong learning. Adults are most often unlikely to participate in further training, with negative consequences for their careers.

Data availability and reliability

Data availability is the most significant challenge for this compilation exercise which varies greatly among and within regions, for example in South Eastern Europe and Turkey there is high availability, yet quality varies between countries, and in Central Asia it is generally poorer than in other regions.  

The KIESE findings are limited only to countries where data is available, and this affects the overall analysis. Although the coverage of labour market indicators is generally satisfactory across the regions, the availability of other indicators, particularly education and training, remains limited. The ETF is working with each of the partner countries to ensure better coverage and quality of data as an integral part of all its activities.


The ETF's 2020 data compilation exercise on education, skills and employment gives details on key issues influencing human capital development including vocational education and training (VET) policies, and the critical role of reliable data in policymaking.

The indicators are compiled annually for all ETF partner countries and are used in various ETF documents and publications. As some of the indicators are also EU2020 targets for education and employment, they also allow the ETF partner countries to reference themselves with the European Union.

This collection of statistics form part of a broader set of ETF indicators to enable an assessment of developments in the field of human capital in the partner countries. Comprehensive analysis of VET and skills requires more detailed data and other information, to which KIESE are an important but not an exhaustive contribution.


Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

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