Forum 2017: Inclusive Growth
The Forum placed a central emphasis on the need for policies that place people’s well-being at the centre, moving from diagnosis and analysis of increasing levels of inequality to actionable solutions.
This is key to winning back the confidence of those who feel treated unfairly, fearful of the impact of globalisation, increasing migration flows, and the unprecedented speed of technological development.
The Forum focused on some of the trends that are deepening societal divides, and increasing polarisation in our societies, due to declining incomes and access to opportunity among social groups, countries and regions, and highlighted how international co-operation and digitalisation can contribute to bridging these divides.
High levels of unemployment following the financial crisis have contributed to deepening the economic and societal divide.
While unemployment in the OECD will ease to 6.1% by the end of 2017, 39 million people will remain out of work - 6.3 million more than before the crisis, with about 30% of the unemployed confronted with being out of work for 12 months or more.
Those who find work, often only have access to precarious, temporary jobs, at lower salaries than before the crisis.
The Forum delved deeper into options providing more security for people, including social safety nets, active labour market policies, tax, and innovative policies, in particular Universal Basic Income (UBI).
Discussions explored whether UBI might encourage more entrepreneurship, give workers more bargaining power with potential employers, while also assessing the downsides, such as risking leaving some people on the margins of regular employment, or hardening attitudes towards immigration.
Urban areas – places of dense social diversity – tend to be more open to immigration, progressive on cultural and social change, positive on the potential benefits of technological development, and offer more opportunity in terms of access to jobs and education.
Outer suburbs and rural regions, meanwhile, tend to be poorer, less diverse, more traditional, while offering less access to jobs and educational opportunity, amidst growing concern that the current generation of children will grow up poorer than their parents.
The trends driving these divisions have deepened in recent decades, particularly during the uneven economic recovery over the past years in which many smaller rural towns suffered for longer while more educated populations in cities bounced back more quickly.
The Forum focused on bridging the generational divide.
With longer working lives, and an age gap of nearly 50 years between the oldest (baby boomers, born between 1946-1964) and youngest employees (GenY, born between 1982-2000) in some organisations, there is a broad range of perspectives, and attitudes that exist in and about today’s workplace, with each generation having its own set of expectations, needs, values, views and working styles.
What are some of the difficulties that different generations are facing in finding and keeping jobs due to perceived or real lack of experience or age discrimination?
Are employers developing career and training paths keeping in mind the varying needs of their workforce?
What are the expectations of different generations in terms of skill use at work and management styles?
These discussions explored what these generational challenges mean in terms of political choices inspired by OECD work on Ageing Unequally.
Forum sessions explored some of the policy solutions that empower both women and men in pursuing more rewarding careers by removing barriers to accessing the right education and skills, and by promoting efforts to overcome unconscious gender biases.
These discussions were inspired by the progress report on the 2013 OECD Recommendation on Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship presented at the ministerial meeting.
While the proportion of jobs held by women has increased, female workers are more often employed in lower quality and lower paying jobs than men.