Recently, I overheard a group of OECD interns chatting about their first jobs. One student recounts the lessons learned by managing the front desk of a salon, “never underestimate the importance of a haircut!” while another vowed never to work in retail again after his experience in a clothing store. But after looking at the projections of  the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, on job openings from 2008-2018, many of these students might wonder if their next job will be much different than the first. The Bureau projects that there will be more than 1.7 million jobs to be filled for cashiers over the ten year period, taking into account new jobs and replacing those  leaving the labour force -- more than for any other single occupation.



The life of a cashier can most certainly be interesting. The now-famous blogger in France “la cassière” (the cashier) has published “Tribulations of a Cashier”, in 21 languages. Unfortunately, not all cashiers and unskilled workers can expect to achieve this level of financial success. As the global economy emerges from the shadow of the crisis, governments need to take a serious look at how to provide the training needed to prepare the workforce for an changing economy. A well-skilled workforce is one of the main paths for a country’s for prosperity and growth.  As our economies evolve after the crisis, new jobs will emerge. According to the Bureau, in the United States occupations that usually require a postsecondary qualification are expected to generate nearly half of all new jobs from 2008 to 2018. In Europe, more knowledge - and skills-based jobs are becoming available according to a CEDEFOP analysis .


Nevertheless, there is a real concern that there are not enough skilled workers to fill these positions. Vocational education is necessary to help fill the gap between needed skills and jobs in expanding fields such as health care, technology, as well as traditional trades like electricians and plumbers. But if economies want to “cash in” on the growth opportunities posed by these industries, they must be willing to invest in the teachers, training, and policy needed to meet the labour market needs.


How do countries’ vocational training programs differ? Read more to find out.