Skills have become the global currency of 21st century
economies. Without proper investment in skills, people languish on
the margins of society, technological progress does not translate
into economic growth, and countries can no longer compete in an
increasingly knowledge-based global society.
Paris, May 21, 2012 - Boosting investment in
education, skills and training now is the key to strong,
sustainable and shared growth in the future, according to the OECD
Skills Strategy, a new initiative designed to help governments
build economic resilience, boost employment and reinforce social
The Skills Strategy, to be discussed by Ministers at the OECD
Ministerial Meeting in Paris this week, acknowledges that with
public finances under pressure, governments have tough budgetary
decisions to make. But spending on education and skills is an
investment for the future and must be a priority.
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, said: "Skills have become the
global currency of 21st Century economies. They transform lives and
drive economies. Governments must invest more effectively in the
education and skills that people will need in tomorrow's workplace.
They need to deploy their talentpool more strategically so that
these investments translate into better jobs and better lives.
Achieving this is everyone's business, and employers and unions
have a central role to play."
Today, one in five young people leave school in OECD countries
without completing upper secondary education. And in many
countries, a third of adults lack the minimum core skills needed to
engage in further learning and get a good job.
The social and economic costs are huge: OECD analysis shows that
people with poor skills are at much greater risk of unemployment,
poverty and reliance on social benefits.
The Strategy tailors recommendations to particular needs in
individual countries. In the short-run, the focus in most countries
should be on helping youth acquire the skills required by the
The economic crisis has hit the young and low-skilled particularly
hard. The youth joblessness rate is in double digit rates in most
OECD countries and two to three times that of adults.
Despite today's high unemployment rate, a lack of skilled workers
means many vacancies remain unfilled. Even at the height of the
crisis, more than 40% of employers in Australia, Japan, Mexico and
The United States said they couldn't find people with the right
The OECD Skills Strategy provides a framework for countries to
analyse their strengths and weaknesses and recommends ways they can
develop the skills of their young people and adults.
Among its recommendations are that countries should:
- improve the quality of learning outcomes by putting the premium
on skills-oriented learning instead of qualifications-focused
- involve employers and trade unions more closely in designing
and delivering education and training programmes;
- encourage adults to invest in further learning, especially in
small and medium-sized firms. A levy on firms to increase their
contribution to staff training that targets particular sectors or
regions should be considered;
- facilitate the internal and cross-border mobility of skilled
- calibrate tax and benefit systems to make work pay;
- help employers make more effective use of their employee's
- help local economies to move up the value-added chain, foster
entrepreneurship and stimulate the creation of more high-skilled
Canada's skills snapshot
Canada performs well in preparing
its youth with the foundation skills they need for today's modern
economies, but more could be done to ensure that there is a closer
match between the skills obtained by Canadian youth in initial
education and those required in the labour market. See other profiles
To help countries get a clearer picture of their workforce's
skills and see how they compare to other countries, the OECD is
carrying out the most comprehensive international survey of adult
skills ever conducted. The first OECD Survey of Adult Skills will
test the skills of more than five thousand people aged 16 to 65 in
each of the 26 countries taking part. The first results will be
published in October 2013 in an OECD Skills Outlook.
The OECD has also developed an interactive online portal,
http://skills.oecd.org, with support from The Pearson Foundation.
It features more than 20 interactive data visualizations on
developing, supplying and using skills, together with data and
analysis on 40 countries and links to OECD work on skills.
Read and share the full report online from your desktop
computers, tablets or smartphones.
Read Andreas Schleicher's article "OECD Skills Strategy: The pathway of choice"
published on the OECD Observer's website.
Editor's Note: The OECD Report findings are
consistent with the conclusions reached in several GLOBE Advisors
reports on the Green Economy. See
here for more information on the importance of skills training for
the advancement of the clean economy.