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Education for all

Young people from poorer families are badly underrepresented in higher education. That risks exposing them to a lifetime of reduced earnings and undermines the foundations of wider economic growth. What can be done? Economically disadvantaged students benefit from a mix of grants and loans in third-level education, but they also need better support from the earliest years of their school careers.

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Asia’s Challenges

The forces driving Asia’s rapid growth–new technology, globalisation, and market-oriented reform–are also fuelling rising inequality. Some income divergence is inevitable in times of fast economic development, but that shouldn’t make for complacency, especially in the face of rising inequality in people’s opportunities to develop their human capital and income-earning capacity.

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The new performance frontier

By helping emphasise the importance of a “better life” as a key component of societal progress, the OECD has made considerable efforts in recent years to help promote a school of thought that places people’s well-being at the heart of economic growth. After examining the issue of growth and productivity gains, and recognising the question of the environmental cost of our economic activity, the time has come to turn our attention to another area that is equally crucial: fostering a more human economy.

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Knowledge is growth

The growing awareness that knowledge-based capital (KBC) is driving economic growth is prevalent in today’s global marketplace. KBC includes a broad range of intangible assets, like research, data, software and design skills, which capture or express human ingenuity. The creation and application of knowledge is especially critical to the ability of firms and organisations to develop in a competitive global economy and to create high-wage employment.

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The changing art of language

Translators are at the forefront of global communications and knowledge. Yet their work has not always been helped by the information revolution. Here are the challenges.

Readers' views: Labour advice

You paint a positive picture of Turkey’s economy in terms of growth of GDP and employment (OECD Observer No 290-91, Q1-Q2 2012). Nevertheless, the interview states that for the future of the Turkish economy, “labour market reform is key, especially to encourage the shifting of resources from the informal to the formal sector: a more flexible labour contract is needed and minimum wage setting should be decentralised”

Women in work: The Norwegian experience

High female participation in the workforce has a decisive effect on a country’s performance, as Norway shows. 

Israel reports progress

Two years after Israel joined the OECD, Sharon Kedmi, Director General at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, is leading a delegation to an important OECD Employment Labour and Social Affairs Committee meeting on 26 October. He spoke with the OECD Observer.

Europe: Investing in youth

Young, skilled, well-educated, well-travelled and yet jobless: these are the characteristics of the so-called “lost generation”. The challenges young people in Europe face today are many, and vary from region to region and from person to person. Many are facing high levels of unemployment; some need to fight for their basic freedoms; others for their right to build up representative youth structures, or face different types of discrimination. There are plenty of indignados out there! 

Charles Fadel
Skills for innovation

As technology progresses, so do labour market needs. For economies today, maintaining competitiveness means that skills must adapt and keep pace. 

R.Trumka
Occupational risk: the global jobs emergency

The latest phase of the economic crisis presents a dilemma: many governments judge it necessary to enter a phase of fiscal austerity while unemployment remains intolerably high, a high risk combination. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka calls for a different way forward. 

Bo Smith
Help wanted

Among the employment challenges exacerbated by the economic crisis, long-term joblessness and youth unemployment are especially troubling as their effects can linger long after the job market has recovered.
Governments would do well to focus on these problems now.

Unfinished business: Investing in youth employment


Unemployment still high

Immigration and employment: A complex challenge

Israel’s labour market is a reflection of the country’s complicated demographic patchwork. This brings strengths and weaknesses.

Addressing non-paid work

From housework and homemaking to gardening and local community work, both women and men do so-called “unpaid work” on top of their paid jobs.

A labour market with few wrinkles

Canada’s labour market was spared some of the more dramatic peaks and troughs of the economic crisis. Why?

Looking after the future

Off to a Good Start? Jobs for Youth says that young people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as the average worker. This is a waste of resources that today’s economies can ill afford.

Out of work: A portrait

“Being unemployed is frustrating, demeaning and, at this point, frightening”. Anyone who has any doubt about the devastating effects unemployment can have will learn a lot from statements such as this one, captured in a recent survey undertaken by the John. J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University in the US.

Mancession?

Job market: a gender approach.

Working for the recovery

The crisis has had a huge impact on jobs and may have changed the labour market forever. John Martin, OECD Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, explains the challenges facing policymakers in the years and decades ahead.

Boosting jobs and skills

Unemployment soared in the crisis, and creating jobs is now a major policy priority. But jobs alone will not be enough. A greater emphasis on skills will be needed for the recovery to last. Investing more in lifelong learning is a good way to secure one's place in the job market and contributes to business competitiveness.

Don’t forget, employees make healthcare work

Healthcare must be maintained as an essential public good

Skilling up

A country's education system has the potential to develop innovation skills in young people at an early age ("What a lasting recovery needs", OECD Observer No 279, May 2010). Comments I've read on the topic seem to assume that business thinking starts after leaving school, say, with 16-18 year-olds.

BBC-OECD skills Debate

With unemployment soaring, it may come as a surprise to learn that there’s also a shortage of qualified people to fill job vacancies. In fact, companies in Europe have around three million unfilled vacancies, says David Arkless of Manpower Inc.

Mind the gap

More women go to work today than 40 years ago, but their pay has not kept pace with men’s. Some 58% of women on average in the OECD area worked in 2008, up from 45% in 1970, ranging from 70% of women in the Nordic countries to less than 50% in Greece, Italy, Mexico and Turkey. Indeed, with fewer women staying at home, dual-earner families are now commonplace in most OECD countries; only in Japan, Mexico and Turkey are single-income families more common. However, men are often still the main earners in dual-earner families because so many women work part-time and for lower wages than their husbands. In the Netherlands, a relatively egalitarian country, 60% of women work part time, compared with 16% of men.

#30 Global unemployment
Any collar you want

When the OECD was mandated to develop a Green Growth Strategy this June, ministers specifically referred to the "green jobs" that such a strategy would support. But what exactly are "green jobs"?

Roundtable on the jobs crisis

Ministers responsible for employment from around the world gathered at the OECD on 28-29 September to discuss the jobs crisis. In our eighth OECD Observer ministers' roundtable, we ask six representatives, from Canada (co-Chair), Italy (co-Chair), Sweden (vice-Chair), France, New Zealand, and Chile, which is a candidate for OECD accession: What new policy actions are you taking to improve the jobs situation in your country?

Femmes d'affaires

Long ago I gave up trying to break through the so-called “glass ceiling” that has kept women like me out of higher management. Instead I decided to create new enterprises in which management could be reinvented by women. On 8 March 2005, I launched a business incubator devoted exclusively to projects by female entrepreneurs.