Today we rely on information and communication technologies and devices that hadn’t even been imagined just 30 years ago. The set of skills we need to participate fully in and benefit from our hyper-connected societies and increasingly knowledge-based economies has changed profoundly too.

The OECD not only measures skills in student and adult populations, it also works with countries to develop skills strategies tailored to specific needs and contexts. The evidence shows that using both cognitive (literacy, numeracy) and “soft” (communicating, influencing, negotiating) skills in the workplace and maintaining them over a lifetime is strongly related to greater skills proficiency – which, in turn, is related to economic and social well-being.

Key topics

National skills strategies

The OECD Skills Strategy framework is being used to support countries in building more effective national skills strategies by:

  • Working closely with interministerial teams in capitals whose members include government officials from education, employment, economic development and innovation, among others.
  • Engaging a broad range of stakeholders through interactive workshops to build a deep, shared understanding of the skills challenges facing their country.
  • Identifying the country’s key skills challenges and designing concrete actions to improve the country’s skills system.

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Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC)

The Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) is an international survey conducted in 40 countries that measures the key cognitive and workplace skills needed for individuals to participate in society and for economies to prosper. It measures, in particular:

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Problem solving in technology-rich environments

Educators, policy makers and labour economists will use this information to develop economic, education and social policies that will continue to enhance the skills of adults.‌

Find out more about the Survey of Adult Skills and Education & Skills Online Assessment

Vocational skills in schools and in work-based learning

OECD work on vocational education and training draws on country studies, in-depth analysis of specific topics and available data to explore how skills can be effectively developed for successful careers. It covers:

  • Apprenticeships and other work-based learning programmes that combine education and training in schools with work placements.
  • Vocational education and training provided mainly in schools and colleges.

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Education and social progress

OECD work on education and social progress examines the learning contexts that shape skills indispensable for individual well-being and societal progress. The project focuses on:

  • The wider-benefits of skills.
  • The power of social and emotional skills.
  • The role family, school and community learning contexts play in skill formation.

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Skills and work

At the OECD, the relationship between skills and the labour market is the object of in-depth research and policy analysis. This includes:

  • Measurement of skill requirements in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC).
  • Thematic analysis on the links between skills and key labour market outcomes.
  • The assessment and policy response to changing skill needs.

The OECD has also developed an international database on employment and skills indicators (WISE).

Find out more

Skills by country

Find out how your country fares on key information processing skills.   




Compare your country

Take the test

The Education and Skills online test is based on the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC).  It can be used by adults and youth of any age to demonstrate their workforce-readiness skills and benchmark themselves with adults of similar background in their country or internationally.

Skills Summit Bergen 2016 (29-30 June 2016)

The Skills Summit 2016 gave Ministers the opportunity to discuss the benefits and challenges of building effective whole-of-government and whole-of-society skills strategies, and provided a forum to exchange views on how best to maximize countries' skills potential to boost productivity, innovation and social inclusion. Ministers were also briefed on key insights from the OECD's work on building effective national skills strategies.

Press release - Ministers chart future path to boosting skills for productivity, innovation and inclusion at Skills Summit 2016 in Bergen

Opening remarks - by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General

Welcome remarks - by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General

Blog - Skills Summit 2016: Skills strategies for innovation, productivity and inclusion, by Andreas Schleicher, Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

OECD Centre for Skills - OECD Secretary General Angel  Gurría announced launch of OECD Centre for Skills

Chair’s Summary – by Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, Minister of Education and Research of Norway


Follow the debate on skills

The Digital Economy & the Future of Work


OECD Forum - May 31 - June 1, 2016

The expansion of the digital economy has acted as a driver of  economic growth in recent years and is transforming countless aspects of society, from how we sell and how we  do business to how we learn. We can’t predict exactly what work will look like or the specific types of jobs that will exist in the future. What is clear, however, is that most sectors will be affected by the digital revolution.

Skills for the Future


OECD Forum - May 31 - June 1, 2016

How can we harness the potential of today’s technology revolution, while also ensuring the creation of quality jobs and inclusive economic growth?

Will robots or computers replace workers?

And will the “gig economy” be able to unleash innovation and growth without also raising inequality?