Higher education is a safety net

In Poland, the likelihood of having a job is greatly enhanced by being a university graduate, according to the OECD report on the country. The report says 85% of 25- to 64-year-olds with a tertiary education were employed in 2011, compared to 66% of those with an upper secondary qualification – one of the biggest differences among the countries surveyed.

Poland’s annual rate of attainment at the tertiary level is also growing faster than any other OECD country; between 2000 and 2011, the proportion of young adults with tertiary attainment grew by almost 10% a year, three times the OECD average rate of 3.5%.

The report says a 26 percentage-point difference exists in tertiary attainment between young adults of 25-34 years and adults of 55-64 years, the third highest among OECD countries after Japan and Korea.

But Poland is catching up: in 2011, 39% of 25- to 34-year-olds had a tertiary qualification, the same as the OECD average, and three percentage points higher than the 36% average across the EU21 countries.

Then again, despite the wisdom and knowledge one might expect of a more highly educated population, the report says Poland has the third largest proportion of smokers in the OECD, with 35% of adults among 25- to 64-year-olds consuming tobacco in one form or another – in contrast to the average of 30% across the OECD.

But comparing the smoking levels of individuals who have completed tertiary education with those who have not completed upper secondary education shows a significant difference, with a gap of more than 20 percentage points: 23% for the former and 43% for the latter – a difference much higher than the OECD average of 16 percentage points.