The OECD report on numeracy and literacy in 24 countries said basic skills among young people in England and Ireland were "bound to decline" unless "significant action" is taken.
Although young people in these countries are entering a much more demanding labour market, they are not much better equipped with literacy and numeracy skills than those who are retiring.
The implication for England and Northern Ireland is that the stock of skills available to them is bound to decline over the next decades unless significant action is taken to improve skills proficiency among young people.
More top news
A son paid off his parents' mortgage for Christmas - reducing them to tears.
Intruders killed an eight-week-old puppy during a failed attempt to steal from a house in East Lothian, police have said.
It will be a cold day today, with temperatures dipping below freezing shortly after dark.