Message from OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría


OECD Forum 2013 - Jobs, Equality and Trust

As we enter the sixth year of the greatest financial, economic and social crisis of our lifetime, the most striking result is the price in human hardship. With 200 million people around the world unemployed and economic activity still faltering, governments face the challenge of strengthening public finances while at the same time boosting employment, protecting the most vulnerable and restoring growth.

Job creation has to be a priority, particularly for the young. Nearly 8 million young people are neither in employment, education or training, a generation that could be scarred for life by lower wages and precarious employment. Job search assistance and career guidance in the transition from school to work should remain the first line of support for these young people.

High unemployment and precarious jobs are helping to fuel inequality, and the trend risks getting worse as long-term unemployment persists. Education and training are needed to help the jobless. Tax policy can also play a role in reducing inequality by, for example, ensuring that wealthier individuals and multinational enterprises contribute their fair share. Gender adds a new layer to inequality, but our economies can ill afford to waste any talents – and more family-friendly policies can help. And we must not forget inequalities among countries – development is also a key issue for our debates, guided by the OECD Strategy on Development.

As governments act to deal with the immediate effects of the crisis, they cannot neglect the longer-term goal of fostering sustainable and inclusive growth. That means equipping citizens to succeed on a global stage where knowledge is the greatest asset so that the benefits of increased prosperity are shared more fairly. These issues too will be part of the debate, underpinned by the work of the OECD Skills Strategy.

For a sustainable recovery, policy makers need to undertake structural reform, invest in new sources of growth like innovation, skills, knowledge-based assets and green growth. But they will not succeed unless they make it clear that people, the real victims of the crisis, are at the centre of their actions, and unless citizens believe that their governments and institutions can deliver fair and efficient solutions to their problems. Without this, there is little chance of restoring the trust that was badly dented by the crisis and that is so much needed to address the challenges we now face.

Better policies for better lives is a journey, not a destination, and all these issues will be at the centre of the 2013 OECD Forum and Ministerial Council meeting discussions. I look forward to your participation in a lively and productive debate.