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The governance of skills systems is complex and poses many challenges for governments. Located at the intersection of education, labour market, industrial and other policies, skills policies require the co-ordinated involvement and commitment of governments, employers, trade unions, workers, teachers, students and others to be successful.

The complexity of governance arrangements of skills systems is likely to continue. Megatrends such as globalisation, technological progress and demographic change are putting pressure on skills systems to ensure that all members of society are equipped with the skills necessary to thrive in an interconnected world. This is taking place in the context of a general decentralisation trend among governments, which has the potential to further increase the number of actors involved.

Strengthening the governance of skills systems, developing relevant skills over the life course and using skills effectively in work and society were the three broad components of the updated OECD Skills Strategy 2019. The strategy identified four main challenges to strengthening the governance dimension of skills systems: 1) promoting co-ordination, co-operation and collaboration across the whole of government; 2) engaging with stakeholders throughout the policy cycle; 3) building integrated information systems; and 4) aligning and co-ordinating financing arrangements.

This report, Strengthening the Governance of Skills Systems: Lessons from Six OECD Countries, presents concrete examples of how governments with different welfare state and labour market regimes, as well as different political institutions and cultures, have addressed one or several of these challenges. It details six case studies in selected OECD countries: Estonia, Germany, Korea, Norway, Portugal, and the United States, each focusing on a particular policy or sector within the domestic skills system. Based on the evidence, the report presents a number of general policy recommendations for strengthening the governance of skills systems, together with a practical self-assessment tool for policy makers and stakeholders.

Collecting and sharing evidence of the different ways in which governments have approached the challenges of governing their skills systems holds potential for further improvement and collaborative peer learning. The OECD will continue to work with countries to design, develop and deliver better skills policies for better lives in a rapidly changing world.

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