Employment policies and data

Skills and Work


Skills are a major driving force of growth through their effect on labour productivity. They are essential for young people to enter the labour market, access good-quality jobs and embark in successful careers. They are also crucial for adults to keep abreast of technological developments and maintain their employability in a rapidly changing and inter-dependent world.

At OECD, the relationship between skills and the labour market is the object of in-depth research and policy analysis. This includes the measurement of skill requirements in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), thematic analysis on the links between skills and key labour market outcomes, as well as the assessment and policy response to changing skill needs. The OECD is also extending its work on skills to G20 economies and some low-income countries and has developed an international database on employment and skills indicators (WISE).

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Assessing and responding to changing skill needs

As the OECD Skills Strategy has shown, skills transform lives and drive economies. But this requires developing the right skills that respond to labour-market needs and ensuring that these skills are fully utilised by individuals and employers. The OECD can assist countries in three broad areas: (1) Establish good practice in the assessment of existing and emerging skill needs; (2) Help countries to strengthen the responsiveness of their employment, education and migration policies to changing skill needs; and (3) Identify effective strategies to tackle the mismatch between workers’ skills and labour market requirements.


Skills and labour market outcomes

Understanding the relationship between skills and work is crucial to design policies for more inclusive labour markets: low-skilled individuals are less likely to work or look for work and more likely to retire early; the way skills are rewarded varies significantly across countries and at the country level, the distribution of skills affects the distribution of wages. The OECD conducts analyses on these issues as well as others, andexploits the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) which provides a wealth of information on individual skills, skills use at work and labour market and social outcomes.


Data on Skills and Work



The Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) assesses the proficiency (literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments) of adults from age 16 onwards in 2012, together with skills use at work and in everyday life, and a rich set of labour market and demographic information. It consists of individual data for 24 countries in Round 1 (2012) and nine extra countries in Round 2 (2014). 


World Indicators of Skills for Employment (WISE) provide a comprehensive system of information relating to skills development. It covers the period from 1990 to the present from a variety of data sources and consists of five inter-related domains of indicators: (1) Contextual factors (2) Skill acquisition (3) Skill requirements (4) The degree of matching (5) Economic performance and employment and social outcomes.

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Key reports on Skills and Work





New Skills at Work

with JPMorgan Chase & Co

OECD experts discuss how education

and training are important for skills needs 

 New Skills at Work

with JPMorgan Chase & Co

OECD experts discuss

technological progress


New Skills at Work

with JPMorgan Chase & Co

OECD experts discuss the 

importance of getting skills




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