Public Sector

All McKinsey Center for Government

Research topic | McKinsey Center for Government


Drawing on McKinsey’s extensive research and expertise, we gather and develop resources that help school systems, higher-education institutions, and vocational programs transform their performance and improve student outcomes. Our work focuses on the most pressing issues facing educators today.

Education and professional training are vital to boosting a nation’s economic growth and to creating opportunities for individuals. But education systems worldwide are facing enormous challenges—including budget pressures, low graduation rates, declining research productivity, and increasing numbers of graduates ill-equipped to enter the workforce.

Through independent research and drawing on McKinsey’s on-the-ground experience in education, the new McKinsey Center for Government (MCG) is helping to show how these challenges can be overcome. By identifying best practices, gathering benchmark data, and partnering with experts to generate new insights, MCG helps stakeholders in education deliver substantial and lasting improvements in individual, social, and economic outcomes.

Our expertise

In the last 5 years, McKinsey has worked on more than 400 education projects in some 60 countries. This experience—combined with insights from our collaboration with leading academics and education experts—helps inform MCG’s work in education, which focuses on three areas: primary and secondary school systems, higher education, and “education for employment” (e4e) programs.

K-12 school systems

McKinsey's research helps education leaders navigate the challenges that arise during their transformation journeys. Our experts continually seek to generate new insights into questions that are of the utmost importance for school-system leaders:

  • Where are we with regard to performance and how can we improve?
  • Is our school system able to deliver on reform initiatives, and if not, what do we need to do differently?
  • What school-level practices and behaviors drive performance?
  • What interventions have other school systems used to improve their performance?
  • What unique characteristics of a school system or its environment have the biggest impact on system improvement?

McKinsey's tools and resources include a database with information on more than 600 interventions from the 20 most-improved school systems, a school-health survey that covers school-level teaching and management practices, and a methodology for measuring a school system’s capacity to implement reforms. These resources can help school systems understand their current performance, identify the highest-impact opportunities for change, design appropriate improvement strategies, and execute those strategies at scale.

Higher education

To be successful, colleges and universities must develop compelling strategies, better manage their budgets, improve student outcomes, and raise research productivity. At the heart of McKinsey's research in higher education is the development of a global benchmarking database containing performance metrics in a range of critical areas—such as student outcomes and employment, instructional models, cost efficiency, capital planning, research productivity, and organizational health—from public and private higher-education institutions worldwide. This research is responsive to trends shaping the higher-education landscape, including students’ changing needs and expectations, the increase in nontraditional students, and innovations in delivery.

McKinsey's cutting-edge research and tools help transform education systems and institutions to improve individual, social, and economic outcomes. Through fact-based assessment of the potential impact of proven strategies for improving higher-education productivity, this work helps key stakeholders address all stages of transformation, including diagnosing performance, developing strategies, and preparing and supporting implementation.

Education for employment (e4e)

Youth readiness for the job market is a growing challenge. A shortage of jobs is part of the problem—but even young people who are highly educated may be unqualified for the jobs that do exist. McKinsey's research helps stakeholders—including education providers, government agencies, and employers at the country or sector level—identify the root causes of the mismatch between skills and employer needs, so that they can develop and implement strategies that span vocational education, universities, and work-readiness programs.

Research and collaboration

MCG works with education leaders and experts worldwide to understand the ways in which educational systems and institutions can deliver measurable, meaningful change. Through our partnerships and alliances, we are developing detailed case studies of best practices, building robust benchmarking databases, and producing unique insights into the most complex education challenges. For example, McKinsey's education experts recently collaborated with the International Finance Corporation and Islamic Development Bank on an exploration of youth unemployment in the Arab world.

For more information or to discuss potential collaboration and participation in our research, please contact us.

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Meet our people

Andre Dua

André Dua



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