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 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 skill challenges. Seven dimensions are distinguished, namely: i) urgency, ii) coverage, iii) inclusiveness, iv) flexibility and guidance, v) alignment with skill needs, vi) perceived training impact, and vii) financing of adult learning.

This report presents the results from the dashboard and identifies those areas for each country where action is needed to improve the future-readiness of its adult learning system. The type of action that should be taken is illustrated throughout the report by policy examples from OECD and emerging countries.

Data for the dashboard and report are derived from a variety of quantitative and qualitative data sources, including the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), the European Continuing Vocational Training Survey, and the European Adult Education Survey. Qualitative information, including on recent policy initiatives, is based on questionnaire responses from 35 OECD countries and four non-member countries provided by the relevant ministries and social partners, as well as the wider literature.

The work on this report was carried out in the Skills and Employability Division of the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs by Alessia Forti, Anja Meierkord and Marieke Vandeweyer, with research assistance from Anna Vindics, under the supervision of Glenda Quintini (Team Manager on Skills) and Mark Keese (Head of Division). The report has benefited from helpful comments provided by Mark Pearson (Deputy-Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs), Stefano Scarpetta (Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs) and staff at the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

Financial assistance was provided by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. The views expressed in this report should not be taken to reflect the official position of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. This report is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD.

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