The OECD has recently affirmed the importance of increased productivity and continued economic growth as means of providing the best opportunity to raise the prosperity and well-being of people. Skills represent the great equalizer and provide a critical route out of poverty and inequality for many individuals. However, traditional approaches to skills have focused on supply as a means of boosting overall local economic development. Skills utilisation approaches represent a new way of thinking about public policies, moving away from traditional supply side approaches to focus on how to better work with employers to raise the quality of jobs at the local level and provide employees with more autonomy to create innovation in the workplace.

This report has been prepared by the Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Local Development and Tourism (CFE) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is part of a project undertaken in co-operation with the United Kingdom Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), the Australia Department of Education and Training, and the International Labour Organization (ILO). This project is coordinated by Jonathan Barr (Head of the Employment and Skills Unit, OECD LEED Programme) as part of CFE’s Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Programme under the direction of Sylvain Giguère, Head of OECD LEED Division.

The report was prepared by Anna Rubin (OECD), Jonathan Barr (OECD), Angela Attrey (OECD) and Paul Comyn (ILO). Johnny Sung (Institute for Adult Learning, Singapore) and Chris Warhurst (Warwick University) contributed to Chapter 1. The case studies were drafted by Peter Totterdill (UK Work Organisation Network, United Kingdom); Johnny Sung (Institute for Adult Learning, Singapore); Susan Crandall (University of Massachusetts, United States); Myung Sook Jun (Chonnam National University, Korea); Phung Trong Hieu (International Labour Organization); Damian Oliver (NSW Skills Board, Australia); Enrique Fernández-Maldonado Mujica (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Peru); and Mary Ann Mendoza (International Labour Organisation).

This report and overall project also benefited from advice from Chris Warhurst (Warwick University), Ewart Keep (Oxford University) as well as insights and information from participants at an OECD-Commonwealth of Australia workshop on “Engaging employers in skills development for the 21st Century” in Adelaide, Australia from 2-3 June 2016.

Finally, thanks also go to Beatriz Jambrina Canseco for statistical support, François Iglesias and Pauline Arbel for production assistance and Janine Treves who provided useful editorial support. This report benefited from comments and advice from Victoria Kis within the OECD Directorate of Education (EDU) and Glenda Quintini within the OECD Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS).