Accessible and high quality education and training across the life cycle will support people to become active and engaged citizens, and equip them with the necessary critical and creative skills to navigate an ever-changing employment environment. Ireland is making progress but concerns remain regarding early school leaving and the poor labour market outcomes for people with low or no formal educational qualifications.
Participation in high quality education has benefits not only for young people themselves but also for taxpayers and society. These benefits typically last over the course of an individual’s lifetime. According to the OECD adults with a tertiary degree in Ireland earn on average 81 per cent more than adults with upper secondary education. They are more likely to be employed, the employment rate is 11 percentage points higher for degree holders than for those with an upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education.  Socio-economic disadvantage also follows a student throughout the education system with younger graduates from more affluent areas earning around €2,000 more a year on average than their peers from disadvantaged areas. Even when controlling for different factors, graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds earn more than €600 less after graduation than others.  This presents a challenge to policymakers, and points to the value of investing in education at all stages, and the particular importance of investing in early childhood education, and a continued focus on tackling educational disadvantage. The benefits of investing in education, both to the individual, to the economy and to society, far outweigh any initial outlay of resources. This is something that should be at the forefront of decisions regarding the investment and resourcing of our education system as a whole.
 OECD (2019) “Ireland”, in Education at a Glance 2019: OECD Indicators, Paris: OECD Publishing.
 Higher Education Authority (2020) Graduate Survey Outcomes Class of 2018. Dublin: HEA