2018 OECD Economic Surveys: Poland 2018

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The Polish economy is expanding rapidly and living standards continue to rise, catching up with those in other OECD countries. To sustain this trend Poland needs to invest further in skills and infrastructure and develop its capacity to innovate. Indicators of scientific research quality are below those in the leading OECD countries, and business R&D investment remains weak despite rapid recent growth. Vocational training suffers from limited business engagement, and adult learning is not well developed, inhibiting citizens’ ability to acquire stronger basic and digital skills. This is holding back the economy’s capacity to innovate and the ability of Poland’s plentiful small enterprises to adopt new technologies, modernise their organisation and production procedures, and thus improve their productivity and grow. The government plans a higher education reform and the development of a skills strategy to address those issues. To help Poland confront rapid ageing, policies need to bolster seniors' and female employment, while making Poland more attractive to domestic and foreign workers alike. Poland also needs a strategy how to ensure continued financing for investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation from domestic sources should the availability of EU Structural Funds decline in the next EU budgetary cycle.


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Strengthening innovation in Poland

Poland’s catch up with other OECD country has been largely based on productivity growth resulting from restructuring towards more productive sectors and foreign technology absorption. The economy’s own innovation capacity is relatively weak, with low investment in research and development, no tradition of commercialising research and very limited innovation activity within firms. The government plans a higher education reform to strengthen the quality of research output, science-industry cooperation and international collaboration, which are all weak. Considerable EU funding is available to support innovation. Most of it is conditioned on science-industry co-operation, which is showing initial benefits. A lively start-up scene is gradually emerging, and the government foresees considerable public support for venture capital financing. Yet, investment in higher education and research trails behind economies that have been able to build strong science and high-tech start-up activity. Poland’s many small and medium-sized enterprises have particularly low productivity, partly related to weaknesses in vocational training and adult education, as too many workers have weak basic and digital skills. The government’s education reform and digital strategy address some of these issues.



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