The recently published Second International Report for the Survey of Adults Skills looks in detail at the extent to which proficiency in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments matters for the well-being of individuals and nations. The answer that emerges is clear: proficiency is positively linked to a number of important economic and social outcomes.
This chapter analyses how skills are used at work, why skills use matters for workers and economies and its key determinants. It draws on data for the 28 OECD countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills.
Today, the OECD publishes "Skills Matter: Further Results from the Survey of Adult Skills", the Second International Report for the Survey of Adults Skills, which covers a further nine countries and sub-national entities – Chile, Greece, Indonesia (Jakarta), Israel, Lithuania, New Zealand, Singapore, Slovenia and Turkey– that collected data in 2014-15.
New research points to the role of field-of-study mismatch in explaining the long-term effects of cyclical labour market shocks. It suggests that policy effort ought to be directed not just towards the NEETs, but also towards youth who find employment during recessions, given their higher risk of prolonged field-of-study mismatch and lower wages if mismatch is accompanied by overqualification.
The demand for soft skills is increasing, and recent evidence suggests that the supply does not seem to keep up. The benefits from further development of these skills go beyond better labour market outcomes, as soft skills have been shown to contribute to overall well-being.
A more skilled population ahead: age or cohort effects? Evidence from PIAAC and the differences in policies approach.
Tax incentives are used widely across OECD countries to incentivise individuals to invest in education and training, but are they effective? Recent evidence from the USA highlights the risk of creating overly complex systems in which the embedded incentives are no longer fully understood by individuals. This carries an important lesson for other countries in designing their own tax measures for skills investments.
When nearly a million Vietnamese “boat people” fled their country in the late 1970s and early 1980s and sought refuge elsewhere, they were typically seen as a burden and often turned away. Eventually, many were allowed to settle in the US. Most arrived speaking little or no English and with few assets or relevant job skills. Yet Vietnamese refugees are now more likely to be employed and have higher incomes than people born in the US.
Workers can be mismatched by qualifications while their skills are, in fact, adequate for their jobs. This situation, ‘apparent’ qualification mismatch is more common in certain fields of study than in others and speaks to the need of strengthening the links between employers, education providers and students to share information on the true skills, to avoid true skills mismatch.
Ongoing innovation in technology is changing labour markets worldwide. To understand the future of work in the digital era, we need to move away from the traditional economic classification of manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors.