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The world of work is changing. Digitalisation, globalisation, and population ageing are having a profound impact on the type and quality of jobs that are available and the skills required to perform them. The extent to which individuals, firms and economies can reap the benefits of these changes will depend critically on the readiness of adult learning systems to help people develop and maintain relevant skills over their working careers.

To explore this issue, the OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs has undertaken an ambitious programme of work on the functioning, effectiveness and resilience of adult learning systems across countries. This includes the creation of the Priorities for Adult Learning (PAL) dashboard for comparing the readiness of each country’s adult learning system to address future skills challenges, as well as a cross-country report, Getting Skills Right: Future-Ready Adult Learning Systems, which showcases relevant policy examples from OECD and emerging countries. The Directorate is also carrying out a series of in-depth country reviews of adult learning systems to offer a comprehensive analysis of the key areas where policy action is required.

This report considers how two new skills-related programmes in Canada – Future Skills and the provincial workforce innovation centers – might improve the future-readiness of Canada’s adult learning system. Chapter 1 presents an overview of the Canadian labour market context and an assessment of how the adult learning system performs in international comparison. Chapter 2 examines how the new programmes might influence the future-readiness of Canada’s adult learning system along five dimensions: coverage and inclusiveness; alignment of training with labour market needs; impact on labour market outcomes; finance; and governance and coordination. Chapter 3 reviews international experience in promoting high-performance work practices, and suggests how Canada’s new skills-related programmes could stimulate good practice in this area.

Katharine Mullock from the Skills and Employability Division of the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs was the main author of the report. Natasha Yokoyama, also from the Skills and Employability Division, contributed valuable research assistance. The work was carried out under the supervision of Glenda Quintini (manager of the Skills Team) and Mark Keese (Head of the Skills and Employability Division) and benefited from helpful contributions from members of the Skills team. Special thanks are due to the many Canadian stakeholders who participated in OECD meetings during the October 2019 visit to Canada, and who provided documentation and comments that were crucial inputs to the report’s production. The data provided by Tahsin Mehdi (Statistics Canada) from the 2016 General Social Survey are also gratefully acknowledged.

This report is published under the responsibility of the Secretary General of the OECD, with the financial assistance of Employment and Social Development Canada. The views expressed in this report should not be taken to reflect the official position of OECD member countries.

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