Edited by George Saridakis and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 6: Investing in labour force and skills development
The OECD recently opened its skills strategy with the words: ‘Skills have become the global currency of the 21st century’ (OECD 2012: 3). Such language is very familiar, and the case for investing in skills is widely accepted – so much so that there is a risk of taking it for granted. In recent years, governments have sought to respond to the challenges of the global knowledge economy by paying increasing attention to skills and education. In addition, because of demographic change, most governments have acknowledged, at least formally, the importance of continuing development and learning by the existing workforce. The United Nations Population Division has estimated that in developed nations, the proportion of the population that is of working age will fall from61 per cent in 2011 to 51 per cent in 2050, while the old-age-dependency ratio is set to grow from 12 to 48 per hundred of the working-age population (United Nations 2011: 6, 448–9). One possible strategy is to attract skilled migrants, though this is often politically controversial, and anyway migrants also grow older over time. So for many governments, as well as for many enterprises, increasing the adaptability, productivity and employability of workers, and improving their capacity for lifelong learning, presents a pressing challenge. This is both an encouraging and a challenging context in which to explore the role of skills and development as ways of delivering sustainable national and regional growth and improving living standards and well-being.
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