Investing in skills pays off: the economic and social cost of low-skilled adults in the EU.

This Cedefop study provides a comprehensive and robust evidence base in relation to low-skilled adults in the European Union and analyses trends in low skills among adults as well as characteristics, determinants and risks of being low skilled.

Evidence shows that being low skilled is often associated with a set of negative consequences both at the individual and social level: lower earnings and employment rates, lower quality of health, wellbeing and life satisfaction, lower civic and social engagement, higher probability of involvement in criminal activities, and so forth. This is why empowering low skilled adults by means of promoting their upskilling and/or re-skilling is associated with large social and economic benefits not only for the individuals and their families, but also for the economy as a whole.

This study also shows that formal education alone cannot explain all the different dimensions of the low skilled phenomenon. Indeed, the low skilled population is a very heterogeneous group, comprised by different subpopulations with different characteristics and needs. Effective policy actions need to recognise and target the different needs and characteristics of the low skilled subpopulations.

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