Cyprus’s employment of people with university degrees is below average despite its place among the top EU countries for tertiary attainment, according to the latest edition of the European Commission’s Education and Training Monitor.
The report, which was released this week, shows how the EU’s education and training systems are evolving and is also a tool for measuring the bloc’s progress on the six Education and Training 2020 targets.
Cyprus lags the target, which stipulates that the share of 15-year-olds with underachievement in reading, mathematics and science should be less than 15 per cent. Cyprus currently has the highest share of low achievers in science – 42.1 per cent – and mathematics – 42.6 per cent – in the EU and ranks third worst in reading skills – 35.6 per cent. The report used the 2015 results for 2015 of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
It added that there are major performance gaps between different social groups as low performance in science is general across socioeconomic groups. Cyprus, it said, has one of the EU’s highest shares of low achievers among students from the bottom social quartile and the highest share in the top quartile. “Differences between migrants and non-migrants remain significant, although they are less pronounced in science, with second-generation migrants outperforming non-migrants”.
At 7.7 per cent, Cyprus fares better as regards the share of early leavers – aged 18 to 24 – from education and training, as it is lower than the EU average, but ‘the situation is less positive for male and foreign-born students’.
The rate among males is 11.4 per cent, it said, which is well above the rate of 4.3 per cent for females. “For people with a migrant background, the rate of 18.2 per cent contrasts sharply with that of 4.6 per cent for native-born students”.
But despite the fact that Cyprus is among the top countries as regards tertiary education attainment, the employment rate of people with university degrees – 76.4 per cent – remains below the EU average of 82.8 per cent.
Employability, it said, is on the rise for all qualification levels but remains below the EU average. “Unemployment and in particular youth unemployment continue to be high, despite signs of improvement as the economy recovers.”
It added that the share of young people between 15 and 24 not in employment, education or training continues to be high at 15.9 per cent compared with the EU average of 11.5 per cent.
Cyprus, the report said, also has one of the highest shares of people who have never used the internet – more than one in four – whereas, only 43 per cent of Cypriots have basic digital skills, compared with 54 per cent of Europeans on average.
Currently Cyprus has also the lowest rate in the EU of people with advanced skills and development in information and communication technologies (ICT), which “poses a challenge for labour-market needs in an area where demand is growing already”.
The report also mentions the policies the Cypriot government introduced to tackle these issues and improve performance.