Spain’s future prosperity depends on raising skill levels and removing barriers to employment


22/09/2015 - While the economy is showing clear signs of recovery and unemployment levels are falling, further action is needed to improve people’s skills in Spain and remove barriers to innovation and employment, according to a new OECD report.


The OECD Skills Strategy Diagnostic Report – Spain offers a timely assessment of the country’s top skills challenges and provides a sound basis for designing an effective national skills strategy to boost the development, activation and use of skills in Spain.


“Globalisation and rapid technological advances are combining to reshape the world of work and the skill requirements of jobs in all OECD countries – and Spain is no exception. All the signs point to a world in which higher skills levels will be increasingly critical for people’s success in the economy and society”, according to Andreas Schleicher, Director of the Directorate for Education and Skills, launching the report in Madrid. “Now is the time to focus on improving the skill set of the Spanish people and making better use of their skills at work to boost inclusive growth and innovation. The OECD Skills Strategy framework can help Spain build effective and integrated skills policies.”


The report identifies 12 skills challenges for Spain and says the country must redouble its efforts to ensure young people develop the skills needed for success in the economy and society. Spain will also need to do more to reach out to its almost 10 million adults with low levels of skills. Reducing the early school leaving rate – which despite significant improvements remains the highest in the EU – is essential for ensuring that youth are better prepared for the needs of the economy and society and at the same time ensuring that in the future fewer adults are vulnerable to technological and economic change.


Despite recent progress, unemployment remains very high in Spain, for both adults and young workers. Conditions are particularly tough for the large numbers of youth who are struggling to get a foothold in the labour market.  Further reforms are needed to remove barriers to hiring and help the inactive and unemployed to return to work. Many workers in Spain are employed on temporary contracts and they have fewer opportunities to participate in training provided by employers.


Employers need to make more effective use of the skills of their workers by modernising workplace practices to bolster productivity, innovation and competitiveness. Business and the higher education sector must collaborate more for the benefit of students, the economy and society.


High debt levels and an ageing population mean that Spain will need to find more effective and efficient ways to finance its skills system. Better information about learning opportunities and labour market trends is also needed so that job-seekers, employers and prospective students can make more informed choices.


Moving from diagnosis to action will require stronger collaboration among national and regional governments, and with stakeholders. Only by working together will Spain improve its skills outcomes and ensure a more prosperous and inclusive future for its citizens.


The report is available at:


For more information, journalists should contact the OECD Media Division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 97 00).


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