Measuring and improving skills – the new ‘global currency’

The OECD Skills Strategy, launched this week at the OECD Forum, underlines the importance of our focus on the marginalized in the forthcoming 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, on youth, skills and work. While those who are in education or work gain skills throughout their lives, the OECD finds those who are neither in education nor in work actually lose their skills as they get older.

“Skills have become the global currency of the 21st century, but this currency can depreciate if it isn’t used” said Andreas Schleicher, deputy director for education at the OECD, at the OECD Forum on Thursday. .

The 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report will focus on how skills development programmes can improve young people’s opportunities for decent jobs and better lives. It is now possible to explore data on this topic from the perspective of OECD countries and policy at the new skills.oecd web portal, launched as part of the OECD Skills Strategy.

The strategy aims to help countries build the right skills and turning them into better jobs and better lives. It suggests three policy areas to guide countries in their efforts to increase and better use the skills in their populations: First, developing relevant skills by encouraging learning, fostering international mobility of skilled people and promoting cross-border skills policies. Second, activating the skills supply by encouraging people to offer their skills to the labour market and retaining skilled people in the labour market. Third, using skills effectively by creating a better match between skills and job requirements, and by increasing the demand for high-level skills.

But these general policy areas will need to be tailored to local contexts. To make country-specific policies, one must know what the country-specific problems are. Many existing ways of measuring skills have shortcomings. For example, simply measuring educational qualifications does not necessarily measure the actual skills people possess. And only assessing young people still in school misses the opportunity to identify how skills change over the lifespan.

The OECD is therefore working on a new Survey of Adult Skills, a product of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). PIAAC will not only measure a wider range of skills than in existing assessments such as PISA, but also survey an age range from 16 to 65 in each participating country. The first results from the Survey of Adult Skills will be published in the new OECD Skills Outlook in October 2013.



  1. What a great concept! It will be interesting to see this new survey as it appears to encompass a wide range of data. In addition, surveying participants from the age group of 16-65 is considerably large. The concept is a good one and I look forward to reading additional information regarding this issue.

  2. Increasing skill levels would certainly afford people more opportunities with regard to better jobs. What types of skills do these programs teach? What countries are involved in such programs? Is there a specific age range of students?

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