OECD Skills Strategy: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives: A Strategic Approach to Skills Policies

First published on Fri, June 01, 2012.

This report argues that skills have become the ‘global currency’ of the twenty-first century. If student performance in the OECD area is raised by just half a school year, it would add USD 115 trillion to the economy over the working life of the generation born this year.

To succeed in an increasingly technological and knowledge-based global economy, countries need to develop and invest in better skills policies – and translate these policies into jobs, growth and improved quality of life. This document outlines what an effective, integrated and cross-government strategic skills framework might look like.

In contrast to traditional measures of skills levels– such as years of formal education and the attainment of other qualifications – the OECD Skills Strategy provides an assessment of the skills acquired, developed, maintained and sometimes lost over a lifecycle. On this basis, the report argues for a skills policy which focuses not only on education, but which also ensures that skills are utilised and developed throughout a person’s entire working life. It seeks to measure how effective education systems are in instilling skills relevant to modern labour markets and to measure how these skills relate to the success of different countries.

Five key strategies outlined in the report:

  • Develop skills relevant to the labour market.
  • Ensure existing skills are fully utilised.
  • Tackle unemployment and ensuring young people gain a foothold in the labour market.
  • Stimulate the creation of more high-skilled and value added jobs.
  • Support governments in creating linkages and trade-offs between relevant policy areas.

An effective skills strategy is also underpinned by detailed “skills intelligence”. This data allows countries to identify the strengths and weaknesses of current policy, and facilitates the design of alternative strategic practices. The OECD Survey of Adult Skills, which will be published in October 2013, will provide an appropriate empirical model for generating such skills intelligence.

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