Remarks by Angel Gurría
Buenos Aires, Argentina - 19 March 2018
(as prepared for delivery)
Ministers, Central Bank Governors,
In the context of rapid and massive technological change, closing the gap between “Policy 1.0” and “Technology 4.0” is urgent. The OECD is happy to have contributed a report that underpins the Framework Working Group members’ analysis on the implications of the future of work for growth and inclusiveness.
Let me focus on two particular challenges.
First, we need to bridge technology gaps to ensure that all businesses, all workers and all citizens widely share in the benefits. Even in advanced economies, many businesses have not yet taken up new technologies. For example, only 16-17% of firms in France and Germany used cloud computing in 2016, compared to some 45% in Japan. Emerging economies have chances to jump ahead, but they also face particular challenges to adopt new technologies.
To bridge the technology gap we need to accelerate technology adoption and diffusion. This requires firms to invest in re-skilling and up-skilling workers and to adapt business models. It requires policies to encourage innovation and experimentation. To provide access to digital infrastructure for all. And to ensure that competition still prevails where competition policies designed for conventional markets may not be fit for digital businesses.
Second, for workers, technological change and digitalisation will mean disruptions. The OECD places the percentage of jobs at a high risk of automation in the next 15-20 years at 14% for OECD countries. Another 30% or so of jobs are at risk of significant disruption as a result of automation.
Adapting education and training to the changing skill needs, and supporting transitions to new jobs, will be urgently needed to bring opportunities to the least skilled. Labour market institutions and social protection systems will need to adapt to emerging forms of work. Building on instruments such as its internationally-recognised Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the OECD works closely with colleagues in the Sherpa Track on these issues.
Tax and transfer systems should be an integral part of the policy response. Tax policy, itself facing challenges from digitalisation, such as revenue and administrative challenges from occasional and non-standard work, will need to be redesigned to boost productivity, equality and opportunity together in the context of technological change and digitalisation.
The policies of yesterday will not work for the economic realities of tomorrow. We therefore welcome the presidency’s proposal to develop a menu of policy options to address these challenges. The OECD can help with its evidence-based insights spanning productivity, trade, jobs, education, skills, inclusion, and social protection. We can, we should, and thus, hopefully, we will work together to design, develop and deliver better policies for better lives in the future world of work.