The OECD has put together a strategy that helps countries to transform skills into better jobs and better lives.
The strategy tries to formulate answers to the following questions:
- How can a country improve the quality and quantity of its skills?
A country has to encourage people to learn, by gathering and using evidence about the changing demand for skills, by involving social partners in education and training programmes, by linking the world of learning and the world of work, by removing barriers to investing in further learning, by promoting equity by ensuring quality education for all and by ensuring that the costs of education and training are shared.
A country has to encourage skilled people to enter the country by facilitating mobility for skilled migrants.
A country has to promote cross-border skills policies, by investing in skills abroad and encouraging cross-border higher education.
- How can a country activate skills in the labour market?
A country has to encourage people to use their skills by creating financial incentives that make work pay and by dismantling non-financial barriers to participation in the labour force, such as inflexible working conditions.
A country has to retrain skilled people, by discouraging early retirement (lifelong learning and targeted training can improve employability in later life and discourage early withdrawal from the labour market) and by staunching brain drain, providing incentives to stay rather than imposing measures to prevent emigration.
- How can a country make the best of its talent pool?
A country has to ensure that people use their skills effectively by helping young people to gain a foothold in the labour market, by helping employers to make better use of their employees’ skills, by providing better information about skills needed and available and by facilitating mobility.
A country has to increase the demand for high-level skills. Policies can also ‘shape’ demand, rather than merely respond to it. Entrepreneurship has to be fostered: entrepreneurs are made, not born.
The way forward
As a follow-up to formulating the Sills Strategy, the OECD will be devising guidance on how to develop national skills strategies and support countries in implementing them. The OECD Survey of Adult Skills can help: it provides a first-of-its-kind assessment of the skills individuals have, how these are used on the job, and the resultant economic and social outcomes. The first results will be published in October 2013 as part of a new OECD Skills Outlook. In addition, OECD is developing an interactive online portal for skills: http://skills.oecd.org.