Skills are the key to fighting inequality, OECD says

A new report from the OECD argues that focusing on skills – the subject of the forthcoming 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report – is essential to combat rising wage inequality, which traps many people, especially the young and the marginalized, in temporary, part-time or badly paid jobs.

“Upskilling of the workforce is by far the most powerful instrument to counter rising income inequality,” the secretary-general of the OECD, Angel Gurría, said today as he launched the report, Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising. “The investment in people must begin in early childhood and be followed through into formal education and work.”

The 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report will focus on the chronic mismatch between education systems and labour markets that plagues many regions of the world.

Young people who never attended school, who left early or who left without the skills needed to thrive in literate societies, are particularly vulnerable. The 2012 GMR will ask what kinds of policies are needed to give them access to employment-relevant training, among other questions.

Divided We Stand found that in OECD countries the gap between rich and poor had reached its highest level for over 30 years, and warned governments to act quickly to tackle inequality – and especially to reach out to the marginalized, who will be a key focus of the 2012 Global Monitoring Report.

The 2012 GMR will include OECD countries but also go beyond them, to highlight how the mismatch between education systems and labour markets affects young people right across the world, including in countries in the Arab world and sub-Saharan Africa that have experienced political and economic upheavals in recent times.

“Our study argues that the most promising way of tackling inequality is, more than ever, to foster the employment of under-represented groups,” Angel Gurría said as he launched the report. He also drew attention to the importance of analyzing in detail the ways skills are imparted, which we will be examining in the 2012 GMR: “The way that training is provided also needs careful assessment and both employers and individuals need the means and incentives to invest in human capital.”


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