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The ineffectiveness of France’s education and job training system is costing €43 billion, or 2% of GDP

Paris, December 1st, 2019: The Institut économique Molinari is issuing, for the first time, a study on the cost/quality ratio of education and job training in France.

Education and job training in France are not cheap. Although France spends €155 billion annually on education and job training, it ranks only 17th in cost/quality ratio in the study’s comparison of 27 European countries.

If the French system came closer to the systems that are most effective in matching education and training with the job market, it could be saving up to €43 billion.

FRANCE RANKS 16TH OUT OF 27 IN EFFECTIVENESS OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION SPENDING

With similar results (in terms of ability to teach a common base of knowledge), savings of €28 billion out of the €105 billion invested in primary and secondary education could be achieved if France were closer to the quality/price ratio of the most effective countries.

If spending were optimized, as in the Finnish and Estonian systems, France could achieve the same level with 26% less spending than today.

France currently ranks 16th of 27 countries in quality/price ratio. Although France spends 14% of per-capita GDP on primary and secondary education, fewer than 72% of pupils are proficient in reading, mathematics and science. Finland and Estonia also spend heavily (more than 13% of per-capita GDP for Finland and 15% for Estonia), but more than 83% of pupils function proficiently.

FRANCE RANKS 17TH OUT OF 27 IN EFFECTIVENESS OF HIGHER EDUCATION SPENDING

With similar results (integration on the job market after three years), savings of €4 billion out of the €31 billion invested in higher education could be achieved if France approached the quality/price ratio of the most effective countries.

If spending were optimized, as in the Irish, Norwegian, Austrian or German systems, France could achieve the same level of job market integration of young graduates with spending 11% lower than today.

France currently ranks 17th out of 27 countries in quality/price ratio of higher education. Although France has an employment rate of more than 80% for young graduates, this is lower than in other countries with similar education spending. The Netherlands and the United Kingdom, with education spending almost identical to that of France as a percentage of per-capita GDP, have employment levels of close to 90%.

FRANCE RANKS 21ST OF 27 IN MATCHING EDUCATION AND TRAINING WITH THE JOB MARKET

Various criteria need to be taken into account in measuring the system’s effectiveness, namely:

  • Enabling individuals to work in the field for which they were trained (matching rate);
  • Providing companies with all the necessary training (occupation rate);
  • Limiting early school leaving (NEET, or young people Not in Education, Employment or Training).

With similar results, the French system could achieve savings of €43 billion out of the €155 billion invested in education if it approached the quality/price ratio of the countries most effective in matching training with the job market.

If spending were optimized, as in the Norwegian, Icelandic or Finnish systems, France could attain the same level of matching with 28% less spending than today.

France now ranks 21st out of 27 countries in quality/price ration. It spends 27% more than Finland on a per-capita basis but achieves much poorer results, with a 75% level of matching between training and the job market and a 13% NEET level (Not in Education, Employment or Training) among young people. France’s spending is very high compared to the results achieved in job market integration and in matching training with needs. A large number of young people end up leaving the system without training, schooling or jobs.

A FRENCH POSITIONING THAT CAN BE IMPROVED

When we look at the average of French rankings, we see Ireland, Finland and Norway forming the top trio. France ranks 17th, in the third quartile.

These results confirm the conclusions of a 2005 study ranking France in 16th place among OECD countries (A. Afonso and M. St. Aubyn, “Non-parametric Approaches to Education and Health Expenditure Efficiency in OECD Countries”, Journal of Applied Economics, 8: 227-246, 2005).

THE KEYS TO OUR NEIGHBOURS’ SUCCESS: VOCATIONAL TRAINING AND AUTONOMY

Most of the countries with the greatest success in integrating young secondary and post-secondary graduates with the professional world have systems of vocational training, apprenticeship and work-study training that are regarded as effective by employers and students.

Autonomy of primary and secondary school teachers appears to be a common characteristic of the top-ranking countries. Autonomy is defined here as teachers’ freedom in the content of what they teach, choice of teaching aids, methods used and even forms of evaluation. A high level of autonomy favours teachers’ participation in school life and social recognition of their trade by the population as a whole.

A EUROPEAN COMPARISON

The study by the Institut économique Molinari compares results from 27 European countries in education and job training by means of the Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) method.

In the context of the study, this method consists of selecting various factors (“inputs”) that define the education system in each country and comparing them to the results (“outputs”) provided by the same education systems.

QUOTES

Pierre Bentata, Associate Researcher at the Institut économique Molinari, author
Identifying areas where it is possible to achieve savings while increasing the quality of the services provided is a collective matter. Failure to match our educational system with employment costs about 2% of GDP each year. By drawing upon the features common to the most successful countries, we could improve quality and also achieve substantial savings. This is good news with respect to the goal of limiting public spending and controlling the size of deficits.

Cécile Philippe, President of the Institut économique Molinari
The study from the Institut Molinari indicates that, in France, spending is not matched by quality. It shows that many of our neighbours are more successful at managing their education and job training resources. They rely on more effective vocational training, apprenticeship and work-study training. There can be a way of spending less in France while aiming for much better results. This is an issue for France, which has invested very heavily in education over many decades. The public education sector suffers in particular from excessive centralisation, giving teachers and heads of institutions too little autonomy and too little room for adaptation at the operational level.

ABOUT THE INSTITUT ÉCONOMIQUE MOLINARI

The Institut économique Molinari (Paris-Brussels) is an independent research and education organization. It seeks to stimulate the economic approach in public policy analysis, offering innovative alternative solutions conducive to the prosperity of all individuals making up society.

THE STUDY IS AVAILABLE (IN FRENCH) HERE.

FOR INFORMATION OR INTERVIEWS, CONTACT:
Cécile Philippe, President, Institut économique Molinari
(Paris, Brussels, in French or English)
cecile@institutmolinari.org
+33 6 78 86 98 58
Nicolas Marques, Managing Director, Institut économique Molinari
(Paris, in French)
nicolas@institutmolinari.org
+ 33 6 64 94 80 61

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