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Competitiveness in South East Europe

A Policy Outlook 2018

image of Competitiveness in South East Europe

Future economic development and the well-being of citizens in South East Europe (SEE) increasingly depend on greater economic competitiveness. Realising the region’s economic potential requires a holistic, growth-oriented policy approach. Against the backdrop of enhanced European Union (EU) accession prospects and a drive towards deeper regional co-operation, SEE governments have demonstrated a renewed commitment to enacting policy reforms.

 

The second edition of Competitiveness in South East Europe: A Policy Outlook seeks to help SEE policy makers assess progress made towards their growth goals and benchmark them against regional peers and OECD good practices. The 17 policy dimensions addressed in this report encompass a wide range of areas key to economic competitiveness including the business environment, skills and capacity, the region's economic structure and its governance. The report leveraged a highly participatory assessment process which brought together more than 1 500 individual stakeholders including OECD experts, SEE policy makers, private sector representatives and regional policy networks and organisations to create a balanced view of performance.

Since the latest edition of the report, there have been areas of noteworthy progress. The six assessed SEE economies have adopted strategies to improve the overall standard of education, acted to remove technical barriers to trade and taken steps to establish better financing mechanisms for small and medium-sized enterprises. Further efforts are underway to expand broadband services and close the digital divide, tackle inefficiencies in the energy and agriculture sectors, and address demographic challenges posed by long-term unemployment. Notwithstanding these important gains, there remain considerable challenges for these economies as they continue their journey towards structural reform.

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Education and competencies in South East Europe

This chapter on education and competencies assesses the policy settings, strategies, processes and institutions in six South East European economies. After a brief overview of education and competencies performance in South East Europe (SEE), including educational attainment, achievement in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and spending on education, the chapter then focuses on three essential sub-dimensions. The first sub-dimension, access to and participation in high-quality education, examines how early childhood education participation, teacher quality and equity in education shape education outcomes, and the extent to which SEE economies’ policies improve equity, participation and the quality of education. The second, vocational education and training, analyses how the SEE economies are developing continuing education and training, fostering work-based learning and assuring the quality of vocational education and training. The third sub-dimension, higher education, assesses the implementation of national qualification frameworks, quality assurance, work-based learning (internship) and efforts to widen participation, as well as the development of career services and links with the private sector. The chapter includes suggestions for policy enhancements in each of these sub-dimensions in order to improve performance in education and competencies and to foster greater labour productivity, a long-term driver of competitiveness.

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