There are both economic and social reasons to look at how to better use skills and talent in the workplace. Workers who better use their skills are more likely to have greater job satisfaction, earn better wages and are more prepared to adapt to changes in the nature of work. Employers benefit from a more productive and innovative workforce, enabling them to maximise business performance and profitability. Despite these potential benefits, workers across the OECD report that their skills are not fully utilised in the workplace. This gap represents a drag on local economic development placing downward pressure on job quality as well as economic diversification opportunities.

Skills utilisation concerns the extent to which skills are effectively applied in the workplace to maximise employer and individual performance. As such it involves a mix of policies including work organisation, job design, technology adaptation, innovation, employee-employer relations, human resource development practices and business product market strategies. It is often at the local level where the interface of these factors can best be addressed. Policies which aim to improve skills use in the workplace can help address the multi-faceted challenges many local economies are facing and contribute to national productivity and inclusive growth objectives.

Through case studies of eight OECD and non-OECD countries, this joint publication from the OECD and the ILO explores programme examples which aim to promote a higher level of skills use in the workplace. The examples highlight why there is a need to build policy coherence across employment, skills, economic development and innovation policies. It also highlights the need to ensure that the issue of skills utilisation is built into policy development thinking and implementation.

The increasing recognition of the importance of better using skills reflects a new approach to conceptualising and designing local employment and skills strategies. The OECD and the ILO remain committed to delivering high quality analysis which aims to embed skills analysis into economic development planning to deliver more inclusive local development.


Lamia Kamal-Chaoui

Director, Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Local Development and Tourism

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development


Azita Berar-Awad

Director, Employment Policy Department

International Labour Organization