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Getting Skills Right: Future-Ready Adult Learning Systems

Skills for Life Network

Many countries need to urgently scale-up and upgrade their adult learning systems to help people adapt to the future world of work, according to a new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Getting Skills Right: Future-Ready Adult Learning Systems says that new technologies, globalisation and population ageing are changing the quantity and quality of jobs as well as the skills they require, and that providing better skilling and re-skilling opportunities to workers affected by these changes is essential to make sure the future works for all.

The report goes on to say that today only two in five adults participate in education and training in any given year. The most disadvantaged are least likely to train, with low-skilled adults three times less likely to undertake training than the high-skilled (20% vs 58%). Other groups falling behind include older people, low-wage and temporary workers, and the unemployed.

To tackle the issue, the report makes a series of recommendations, including that countries:

  • Improve coverage and inclusiveness by promoting the benefits of adult learning and providing targeted support for the low skilled, the unemployed, migrants and older people.
  • Align training more closely with labour market needs and design programmes targeting adults whose skills are likely to become obsolete in the future.
  • Improve the quality and effectiveness of training. This could include, for example, putting in place quality labels to help workers and firms make informed choices about training investments.
  • Ensure adequate public financing and incentivising employers to contribute through training levies and tax incentives, as well as encouraging individuals through subsidies and paid training leave.

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