11th OECD- ICGLR -UN GoE Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains

Remarks delivered on 02-05-2017, OECD, Paris

European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström, Vice-Minister of Mines for Colombia, Executive Secretary of the ICGLR, Ambassadors, distinguished guests, members of the press, good morning and welcome to the 11th Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains.

We usually start this Forum that we launched with th the Great Lakes Region, OECD and UN Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2011  with great enthusiasm given the accomplishments and the commitments from all of you to build a rules based and human global economy.

This time is different. I will ask you to stand, and to observe a minute of silence in the memory of our co-hosts, UN experts Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan, who were murdered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last month.

On behalf of the OECD, I wish to convey our condolences to their families and colleagues from the UN and beyond.

I also take the opportunity of this remembrance to extend our thoughts to all victims of the ongoing conflicts in Central Africa.

Thank you.

Now let me move to the Forum, and in their memory, increased our resolve to address the problems on this issue. I am very please to see that over time, this unique global multi-stakeholder forum has managed to attract an ever-increasing number of participants, with an unexpected growth both last year and this year.  We have 850 participants!

This demonstrates the increasing awareness on the need for responsible business conduct in supply chains of minerals worldwide.

But there is no other way. We are now confronting a stong backlash against globalization fuelled by the financial crisis, by the increased income inequalities, and by the suboptimal outcomes of our economic model on the environment. But it is also link to the uneven application of international standards and the respect of human right and dignity in so many international economic operations.

So this exercise aquires more meaning, and making our standards strong will help us build a more balanced global economy, and rebuild our social capital that seems to be plagued by extremisms.


11th OECD_ ICGLR _UN GoE Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains_GR
Europe Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström

I am glad to report, nevertheless, that the global agenda to promote responsible production and trade of minerals has progressed.

This progression has become possible notably through the implementation of the OECD Guidance on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains and other efforts over the last 5 years.

There now seems to be a solid understanding that due diligence in mineral supply chains is expected by the market, and responsible sourcing is a way to help business grow and prosper.

Due diligence is the means for business to cut out the most harmful practices that undermine our collective security and development in a way that seeks to raise volumes of responsible exports, rather than embargoing entire producing regions from global markets.

We are proud to be hosting this year parallel sessions on the implementation of our instrument in a variety of mineral supply chains, including mica, cobalt, coal and precious stones.

The OECD Guidance as you all know is a framework applicable to all minerals.

In addition, this year we will begin conversations on responsible minerals trade in Myanmar, while also advancing our existing work in Africa’s Great Lakes Region, China, India, West Africa and Colombia.

The relevance and applicability of the OECD standard across the globe is further underscored by the adoption of the European Union Regulation setting supply chain due diligence obligations for importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten.

We are proud to see that this regulation, which has a global scope, is based on the recommendations set out in the OECD Guidance.

I look forward to learning more in the key note address from Commissioner Malmström and the regulatory update session later in the day today, and I commend her for her effort.

This year, we will also be delving deeper into the ways that company risk management measures can have positive impacts on the ground.

We are pleased today to launch a set of practical actions to help companies address the worst forms of child labour in their mineral supply chain. The International Labour Organisation has reported that almost 1 million children are working in mines worldwide.

I was in Dehli last December in the march against child slavery with Kailash Satyarty and it was enlightening. But there is so much to do!

Our tool was developed and launched by the Secretariat, with input from many of you and builds off the OECD Guidance.

I hope it will be used as an urgent call to action to avoid mining that undermines children’s rights.

This year we will also be hosting together with the World Bank on 5 May a half-day workshop on global support to responsible artisanal and small-scale mining.

As you may know, the implementation of the OECD Guidance pays specific attention to the inclusion of informal miners, to ensure that responsible mineral supply chains also translates into inclusive supply chains.

We are delighted to be able to move this agenda forward with the World Bank.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before I conclude my introductory remarks I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise two important messages.

First, I would like to call on all countries that have committed to OECD Recommendation of Council on Due Diligence Guidance to continue do more.

In the end, responsible sourcing efforts by companies must be complemented by Governments living up to their own duties.

We have seen some very proactive efforts by a small handful of countries, many of you are here today, but there is still room for improvement.

I hope to return in 2018 to this Forum and hear how governments have strengthened their efforts to promote the OECD Guidance.

Second, I wish to emphasize how important it is that all stakeholders respect each other and engage in a constructive and open manner. I am proud that our work here is carried out in close cooperation with the private sector as well as civil society organizations.

Civil society contributes in varied ways that often complement the roles and functions of governments and the private sector. Their efforts should be supported and their voices protected, in particular by governments. The OECD is committed to protecting and promoting an inclusive and enabling environment for civil society in policy and in practice.

Thank you all again and I wish you successful dialogues over the coming days.

OECD PISA Results Global Launch: Student Well-Being

Remarks given in London, United Kingdom on 19 April 2017

(Slide 1)

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am delighted to come to London to launch the third volume of global results from the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

PISA illustrates the extent to which education systems are providing quality education, and how capable 15-year-old students are at applying what they learn in school to solve real life problems.

At the OECD, we have been working hard to ensure that we go beyond growth and put people’s well-being at the centre. This is why we launched initiatives on New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC), on “inclusive growth”. This is why we launched the Better Life Index, which measures subjective well-being across the world according to 11 essential dimensions.

And we are doing the same with PISA. We have to go beyond testing and performance and look at well-being. being.

(Slide 2)

This volume of results from PISA 2015 focuses on how education systems can promote not only cognitive capabilities, but also the psychological, social and physical capabilities that students need to live a happy life today, and be equipped with 21st century skills.

(Slide 3)

Happy students, but challenges remain

The good news is that PISA data shows the majority of 15-year-old students are happy: on average they rate their satisfaction with life at 7.3 on a scale from 0 to 10.

But about 12% of students are not satisfied with their lives. In some countries, it’s over 20%. This is not about grades. There is little difference in reported life satisfaction between top-achieving and low-achieving students.

But gender and disadvantage do make a difference. Girls and disadvantaged students are less likely than boys and advantaged students to report high levels of life satisfaction.

(Slide 4)

On average across OECD countries, around 29% of girls but 39% of boys reported that they are very satisfied with their life. This is a 10 percentage point difference !  Disadvantaged students report themselves around 0.4 points lower than advantaged students on the 10-point life satisfaction scale.

Self-evaluation in comparison to more advantaged students, and obstacles to achieving material, education, health and leisure goals are likely behind this difference.

But the lower life satisfaction reported by 15-year-old girls in PISA is possibly a reflection of girls’ harsh self-criticism, particularly related to their image of their own bodies at a time when they are undergoing major physical changes. PISA 2015 does not collect data on students’ body image, but the results on eating habits reveal that girls were much more likely than boys to skip breakfast and more likely to skip dinner. In the UK the percentage point difference between girls and boys skipping breakfast was particularly high at 14 percentage points, almost double the OECD average (8 percentage points).

Research suggests that exposure to images of overly thin girls and women in traditional media and social media has a negative impact on girls’ satisfaction with themselves. I was shocked to hear from UK Minister of Health, Jeremy Hunt, when he visited the OECD in January for the Health Ministerial, that the number of girls treated as inpatients in the National Health Service after cutting themselves has almost quadrupled in the last 10 years. This is a shocking wake-up call.

The causes of this are complex and multi-faceted, but the role of the media in promoting gender stereotypes seems to be undermining girls’ well-being and the OECD is starting to look at this issue intensively.

Motivation without anxiety is key for well-being

However, anxiety about schoolwork is one of the sources of stress most often cited by all school-age children and adolescents. In fact, it is strongly correlated to life satisfaction.

(Slide 5)

On average across OECD countries, students who reported the highest levels of anxiety also reported a level of life satisfaction that is 1.2 points lower than students who reported the lowest levels of text anxiety. In the UK it was even more pronounced, at 2 points lower.

Schoolwork-related anxiety is complex and variable, but common sources of anxiety are a highly competitive learning environment, and long study hours. For example, in Belgium and Israel, students in schools with long study time are at least 11 percentage points more likely to report that they feel anxious for a test even if well prepared than students in school with short study time.

The key is to reduce anxiety, while promoting motivation. Across all countries and economies that participated in PISA 2015, students with greater overall motivation to achieve reported higher satisfaction with life.

So who is getting it right?

(Slide 6)

This slide highlights three key countries that I would like to focus on. The Netherlands, Finland and Switzerland.

Not only do students in these countries have relatively high levels of life satisfaction, but they also perform above average in science on PISA.

(Slide 7)

Here we see that students in these countries are less likely than their peers to report feeling anxious for tests. Across OECD countries, 56% of students reported they feel anxious for a test even if they are well prepared; but this was 49% in Finland, 39% in the Netherlands, and only 34% in Switzerland.

On average 37% of students reported they feel very tense when they study, but only 21% of students in Switzerland, 18% of students in Finland and a mere 14% of students in the Netherlands did.

(Slide 8)

The key therefore is to foster motivation, without excessive external pressure to be the best or fear failure, because this causes anxiety.

In this slide, we see that students in the Netherlands, Finland and Switzerland feel much less the pressure to be the best in their class. Given they still achieve high scores in PISA, their motivation to perform seems more positive, more intrinsic, more confident.

To increase well-being and raise performance, teachers and parents need to find ways to encourage students’ motivation to learn and achieve without generating an excessive fear of failure. Indeed teachers have a vital role to play.

(Slide 9)

Teachers are key for student well-being

PISA tells us that schools where students are happy (they report a higher life satisfaction than the country average) are also schools in which students report higher levels of learning support from their teachers. After accounting for students’ performance, gender and socio-economic status, students who reported that their science teachers adapt the lesson to the class’s needs and knowledge were less likely to report feeling anxious even if they are well prepared for a test, or to report that they get very tense when they study.

This is important. Teenagers are looking for strong social ties, acceptance, care and support from others. When students feel supported by their teachers and that they are part of a caring school community, they are more likely to perform better academically and be more motivated in school.

(Slide 10)

On the other hand, negative student-teacher relationships are strongly linked to a low sense of belonging and psychological distress. On average across the OECD, students who reported that their teacher grades them harder than other students are 44% more likely to get very tense when studying. And students who feel their teacher does not think they are as smart as they really are, are 60% more likely to get very tense when studying.

Another worrying association is that in most countries, schools where students felt offended or treated unfairly by their teachers are also schools with a higher frequency of bullying.

(Slide 11)

This suggests that teachers are important role models of fair behaviour and respect, and should be trained in basic methods of observation, listening and intercultural communication to help them better support students.

Unfortunately, PISA 2015 data show that an alarmingly large proportion of students reported being victims of bullying at school.

(Slide 12)

On average across OECD countries, around 11% of students reported that they are frequently made fun of, 7% reported that they are frequently left out of things, and 8% reported that they are frequently the object of nasty rumours in school. Around 4% of students – roughly one per class – reported that they are hit or pushed at least a few times per month. Here in the UK, bullying in all its forms is above the OECD average.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to prevent bullying, effective anti-bullying programmes involve a whole-of-school approach, with co-ordinated engagement among teachers, students and parents.

For example, in the Castile Leon in Spain, only 1.7% of students reported feeling threated by other students, compared to the OECD average of 3.7%. The region’s anti-bullying plan incorporates measures like supporting victims, re-educating offenders, updating bullying protocol and co-ordinating actions to help fight against bullying.

Other countries can learn from these best practices to ensure schools remain safe and supportive environments for learning and socialising.

Well-being outside school and the role of parents

But well-being is a dynamic and fragile balance to be achieved. If it’s undermined in one part of our lives, this harm can spill over into other parts. So what happens outside school, affects how children feel inside of school, and vice versa.  

Parents, family and carers have a critical role to play.

(Slide 13)

Students whose parents reported “spending time just talking to my child”, “eating the main meal with my child around a table” or “discussing how well my child is doing at school” as little as once a week were between 22% and 39% more likely to report high levels of life satisfaction than students whose parents reported engaging in these activities less frequently.

And other activities outside school are also related to science performance and well-being.

(Slide 14)

On average across OECD countries, students who reported taking part in some moderate or vigorous physical activity are 2.9 percentage points less likely to feel very anxious about tests, 6.7 percentage points less likely to feel like an outsider at school. Yet on average across OECD countries, about 5.7% of boys and 7.5% of girls reported that they do not participate in any form of physical activity outside of school, with disadvantaged students being most affected.

And while many don’t do any exercise, students are spending a lot of time watching television, playing video games and increasingly, going online.

(Slide 15)

Between 2012 and 2015, the time spent on line outside of school increased by 40 minutes per day on both weekdays and weekends. Across OECD countries, 90% of students enjoy using digital devices, but PISA 2015 results show that, in most participating countries and economies, extreme Internet use – more than six hours per day – has a negative relationship with students’ life satisfaction and performance.

(Slide 16)

After accounting for students’ socio-economic status, “extreme Internet users” score around 30 points lower in all subjects PISA assesses than students who use the Internet less.

What are the implications for policy?

The good news is that there are policies and practices that are effective in fostering the healthy psychological, social, cognitive and physical development of students.

(Slide 17)

Countries can design interventions to promote psychological health, motivation and confidence at school. For example, in Korea, the Free Semester Initiative, offers a students a semester free of exams and formal assessment, in which they split their time between academic subjects, extracurricular activities and careers training.

It’s also important to train teachers to recognise and anxiety. For example, here in the UK, the Preservice Health Education Programme includes applied health and well-being elements within teacher training.

Another key policy implication of these results is identifying and sharing good practices to raise intrinsic motivation to achieve. Finland’s “Schools on the Move” national action strategy takes students into their local environment, getting them moving, setting goals, designing activites and evaluating results.

The report also recommends fostering a caring school environment, characterised by positive peer and teacher-student relationships. For example, the “Chimale emozioni” (Call them emotions) programme in Switzerland, focuses teacher skills on fostering socio-emotional learning.

Finally, it’s also important to design education policies that promote positive synergies between the school and home environments. Programmes like the Australian Student Wellbeing Hub involves the whole school community, including parents, providing information, resources and training on issues as diverse as cyberbullying, gender identity, and healthy habits.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The great English novelist Graham Greene once said that “there is always a moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in”. PISA is a powerful tool to seize that opportunity.

These results will be key to designing polices that can foster student well-being in the future, and better prepare our young people to thrive in the jobs and societies of tomorrow.

I look forward to hearing your views.

(Slide 18)

Women in Parliament G20 Roundtable “Digitalisation: Policies for a Digital Future”

Delivered 06-04- 2017 Dusseldorf, Germany

Minister Zypries, Members of the Women in Parliament, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to be here, and to see that the gender agenda is alive and kicking in every single G20 Presidency, thanks to you, thanks to your commitment, and thanks the W20. I still remember when we managed to approve the Gender target in the Brisbain Summit (that we actually crafted at the OECD), and when some male Sherpas did not consider this was for leaders. But we proved them wrong, and your presence here is a testament that this is a very important agenda.

And you know what? Dealing with gender issues in the context of the broader growth agenda of the G20 is the right way to do it. We will not make enough progress if we only consider women’s issues in a silo approach. We need to embed a gender angle in each one of the important debates in the G20, and the digital transformation is quite a relevant one.

If we do not get it right, the rapid pace of technological progress may open another divide that will add to the list of obstacles that women face, and in a sector which that is key for building our future. We cannot afford it.


Digital economy

Indeed, the progress made by the digital economy in the last years is amazing. The internet of things is everywhere, and it is changing the way we work, the way we live and the way we interact among each other.

The OECD prepared the report on “Key issues for a digital transformation in the G20” for the German Presidency, and the conclusion is clear. We need to take the right policies to ensure that we get the best of the ICT diffusion, while controlling the downside risks.

On the positives:  The pace of change is spectacular. Take digital access, for example. 20 years ago, only 4% of the world population was connected to internet. Now, it’s at 40%. Take mobile phone usage: while gaps persist, nearly 70% of the bottom fifth of the population in developing countries own a mobile phone.[1] This is opening real promises to the most disadvantaged population.

It is bringing enormous opportunities.

In manufacturing, in services, in health, in education, in innovative ventures, and in so many other activities. Governments can become also more effective, if they rely on solid IT systems for service delivery.

But digitalisation also brings challenges which governments must tackle now. The digital world can produce “winner takes all” dynamics, with a polarisation between a few very productive firms at the technological frontier, while the other firms are lagging behind – with, in turn, an impact on wage inequalities. We also have more than half of the world population without access. So we need a solid package of comprehensive policies to deal with it, and we present som of them in our report.

First of all, we need to ensure competition in the ICT sector and in the broader economy, as the dynamics of the digital transformation may be challenging traditional competition policies particularly if we consider the platforms that we know.

Second, a fundamental pre-condition for the digital transformation is establishing sufficient trust in the reliability and security of networks, including the respect of privacy, consumer’s rights and interoperability of standards. Trust is particularly relevant for SMEs, for children, for women.

Third, we need to boost investment in digital infrastructure, both to help bridge digital divides and to meet future demand, even in countries that have relatively high penetration rates. In the context of increased inequalities, emphasis should be placed in low income groups, and low income regions to boost productivity and growth.

We must make sure that all citizens and firms of all size have access to digital technology and have the skills to take advantage of it.  High level skills, and adaptive skills will be key for a rapidly changing world of work.

Finally, we need to develop a gender ICT agenda, and we support the G20 Presidency proposal for ICT skills for girls.

Let’s be frank. With the current context, the outlook is not so positive regarding participation of women in the digital economy. To start with, in our world of stereotyping, anything related to technology or mathematics (the famous STEM), is not defined as a default option for girls.

No surprising, globally, women make up fewer than 20 % of the ICT workforce and 9 % of ICT sector CEOs.

So we need to develop the skills and the self-confidence! Our PISA study shows that despite the fact that girls tend to outperform boys in STEM subject areas, boys are twice as likely to expect to work as engineers.

In 2012, only 14% of young women who entered university for the first time chose science-related fields of study.

The story here is not about abilities, but more about the attitudes and inherent biases of parents, teachers, the media, and our societies that affect children’s perception of what they should be good at. We have measured this in the PISA report. The families, the school, the girls, do not aspire, do not dream, and are not encouraged to go for STEM or to digital. They can even be dis-encouraged as these are not female occupation!

There is an additional angle. If we think the media reproduces demeaning models for women and girl, waits until you deal with social networks. They promote images of women and girls that are a real problem. OECD countries have confirmed that, the banalization and objectification of women bodies, and the pressure slim and perfect models put on them, is  totally inacceptable. It is creating a problem of mental health, and suffering that should be addressed. Not to talk about direct aggression cyberbullying, that is shared by girls and boys all the same, and should be stop.

So where do we start? I would say strengthening protection on line is a must.

We should also target policies on girls and women underrepresented in STEM. I just launched an initiative in Mexico, gathering the most powerful women in science, for them to mentor and encourage school girls to go for it.

But we also need to eliminate stereotypes, everywhere and particularly in the media. We can also do so in the textbooks of our schools, and training teachers to recognize those biases. Germany has done so, to avoid gender defined occupations. Girls should also be put to do coding, and to get acquainted with these technologies early.

At the level of IT firms, we should ensure that  a share of senior posts are dedicated to women. I know that quotas are never the first option, but given the slow progress, there is nothing like quotas.

If, as they say, some incompetent women may get the job because of quotas, I would say  that too many incompetent men has also gotten a job, even without a quota! And maybe we can get rid of violent video games!

So let’s get on with the task, and let’s support a meaningful agenda. Again, I commend this Round Table, the W20 and the German Presidency to move on. I am delighted to hear that the outcomes of our discussion in this Roundtable will be presented to the Digital Ministers today. The world will be listening, and you must be proud of carrying this important message.

Many thanks,



[1] The World Bank (2016), World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends, International Bank of Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank, Washington DC.


Achieving Women’s Economic Empowerment by 2030: From Global Commitments to Policy Action

Delivered 08- 03- 2017, OECD, Paris France

Happy International Women’s Day! I am delighted to welcome you all to the first OECD’s Development Cluster panel on women’s economic empowerment in developing countries; it’s about women as an engine of Inclusive Growth, a topic very close to my heart.

And we know how badly we need that. Today, our countries are still dealing with the consequences of the worst economic crisis of our lifetime. High unemployment, sluggish growth and low productivity are indeed putting strong pressure on our economies to maximise the use of available talent.

It is high time to ensure gender equality in order to achieve a stronger, more sustainable and inclusive growth – one that benefits all and creates opportunities for all. The Sustainable Development Goals explicitly recognise the universality of gender challenges – and that we cannot achieve “the future we want” if 50% of our population is not empowered.

We need everybody on the deck to boost productivity and spur inclusive growth.

Social and economic returns from addressing the gender gap are high: if labour force participation rates among women reached those of men, we could boost annual global GDP by 12% in OECD countries over the next 20 years.[1] This is true also for developing countries. We all win when we make economies work for women.

The cost of inaction cannot be overlooked either. Last year, the Development Centre estimated that discrimination in laws, attitudes and practices costs the global economy close to USD 12 trillion. More recently, a new study by the Centre found that gender-based discrimination in social institutions impedes well-being beyond its negative impact on economic growth and GDP.

The OECD and Gender Equality

The OECD has been very active on this issue for years, championing gender equality in all areas of its work through the Gender Initiative and Inclusive Growth Agenda. We have also set high standards for our Members – and some partner countries too – through two important Recommendations on Employment, Education and Entrepreneurship, and on Women in Public Life.

Beyond generating benchmarks and policy tools, the OECD’s contribution is to shape the public policy debate. For example, we have been instrumental in the adoption by the G20 of a target of reducing the gender gap in labour participation by 25% by 2025.

We are making great strides in areas such as women on corporate boards or reduced gender gaps in PISA results, and innovative initiatives to reduce the wage gap, such as the new proposal underway in Iceland.

Yet, we still see stagnation in other critical areas, notably labour force participation rates of women. It is for this reason that the SDGs are so timely. They remind us that the challenge to achieve women’s economic empowerment applies to us all, and that we all have a role to play in supporting this agenda by 2030.

Gender equality in developing countries

Of course, our commitment to gender equality goes far beyond our membership. The OECD is proud to have built a comprehensive toolbox of policy solutions, networks and new ideas to advance the gender agenda in both developed and developing countries, namely through the work of the OECD’s Development Cluster, represented here by the Chairs of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and the Governing Board of the Development Centre.

For example, the DAC Network on Gender Equality (GENDERNET) has been supporting Member countries make strong commitments and impacts on the ground, channelling aid where it is most needed. Similarly, the Development Centre’s research, data and analysis on the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) provide policy makers with the know-how to design targeted policies in favour of women and girls.

Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work

As we take stock of the achievements made thus far, we also have our eyes set on 2030. We need to step up the use of our tools, expertise and experience to better support our partner countries in promoting women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work – the main theme of next week’s meeting of the 61st Commission for the Status of Women at the UN Headquarters.

The picture for women’s economic empowerment is sobering. While we know that every additional year of education for a girl opens more doors to empowerment, millions of girls do not have the chance to finish high school. In Uganda, for example, only one in four girls completes high school.

The reasons are many. Poverty is one. Social norms are another. In many countries, adolescent pregnancy and early marriage also prevent girls from finishing high school. Among girls with incomplete secondary education in the Dominican Republic, for example, 50% give marriage or pregnancy as a reason to leave school.

Improving norms around the value of educating girls is critical. In a recent SIGI survey on social norms in Uganda, parents were asked whether they preferred their sons or daughters to go to school – one-third opted for their sons. When asked whether they thought it was appropriate for girls to get married before the age of 18, almost half of them agreed. Analysing the social norm barriers to empowerment is important for targeted and effective policies.

Another critical pillar on the path to women’s economic empowerment is labour force participation. Women continue to face both sticky floors and glass ceilings.

  • Since 1990, the global rate of female labour force participation has decreased by 2 percentage points (from 57% to 55%).
  • Women tend to be concentrated in informal and vulnerable employment. This is the case for up to 60% of female workers in Latin America. In sub-Saharan Africa, where almost 90% of the labour force works in the informal sector, the majority are women.
  • The wage gap between women and men remains stuck at a world average of slightly less than 20%.
  • Despite these challenges, development financing for women’s empowerment is a drop in the ocean. Recent GENDERNET data suggests that only 2% of the aid targeting gender is going to the economic and productive sectors. We need to match our commitments with action if we are to deliver the SDG promise to empower women and girls everywhere by 2030.

We must ensure that the resources that we use are well-targeted and achieve their intended impact and promote a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to gender equality. The OECD is proud to have contributed to cracking, at least, a part of the glass ceiling through our data and analysis. Our evidence-based advocacy and standard setting have contributed:

  • to reforms ensuring that women can enjoy greater legal equality with men in land, productive and financial resources through making reference to the SIGI;
  • to greater donor co-operation on gender equality and women’s empowerment through the GENDERNET; and,
  • to better working standards through newly published guidance aimed at improving business conduct and protecting workers in the garment and footwear sector. It will be important to keep up these efforts the future. That’s why I am pleased to announce today a new OECD initiative to support women’s empowerment in developing countries, tapping into our know-how, data and tools. The Development Centre and the Development Co-operation Directorate, along with the Statistics Directorate, are jointly launching a “Policy Dialogue on Women’s Economic Empowerment”. The Policy Dialogue will be geared to help implement SDG-5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment, with a specific focus on unpaid care work. This perpetuates the inequalities in education and in the labour force. Ironically, whether they are living in an OECD or developing country, women always work more than men when their unpaid and paid work hours are combined.
  • This Policy Dialogue will partner with developing countries as well as with the GENDERNET to design gender-responsive policy solutions and to create an enabling environment for women to enjoy better economic rights.
  • Unpaid care work is a barrier to women’s economic empowerment, due to the unequal share that women must shoulder – their “double work burden”. The time that women spend on unpaid care activities – caring for children, looking after the elderly, fetching water – is time they cannot spend pursuing empowerment opportunities.
  • Through this initiative, the Development Cluster will provide practical guidance to decision makers for better policies and development co-operation towards women’s economic empowerment in developing countries.
  • The way forward: Policy Dialogue on Women’s Economic Empowerment

I am convinced that today’s discussion on “what works” will give new depth and breadth to the policy debates, building on lessons learned from both OECD and non-OECD countries. Together we can reduce the gender gap for good and drive a truly inclusive economic growth.

[1] OECD (2012), Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now, OECD Publishing.

Launch of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector

Delivered 08-02-2017

I am very pleased to join you to open this important meeting, and to launch the OECD Due Diligence Guidance in Supply Chains for the Garment and Footware sectors.

I am also glad to be accompanied by all the stakeholders that made the Due Diligence Guidance possible.  This shows that, working together, with all of you (and I understand that we have 200 representatives from many sectors) we can continue to develop a rules based global economy that delivers for people.

The Guidance was important to redress the damage made by the tragedy of the Rana Plaza and many other abuses, and was also something that the G7 in Schloss Elmau encouraged us to pursue.  

But now, ensuring that Supply Chains are free of forced labour, human rights violations, or many other negative aspects has become essential, in a context where there is a strong backlash against global economic integration.

Indeed, globalization is perceived now as the source of all the problems, and protectionism actions are on the rise. So yes, we need to do better, and build the rules based international economy, including with the Guidance, that will recover the trust of people, and help us build responsible globalization.

Adequate due diligence is urgently needed in the garment and footwear sector

The sector, which provides approximately 75 million jobs globally,[i] has contributed to global growth and provides a first port of entry into the formal economy for many women in producing economies.

But let’s face it. The challenges we face in this sector are immense.  Wages largely remain below the level that is needed to sustain workers and their families, locking them into poverty and deprivation.

Many garment and footwear sector workers are exposed to great risks: water pollution, the use of hazardous chemicals, child labour, forced labour, and restrictions on freedom of association. Fire and electrical safety remains a great challenge.

Less than four years after the Rana Plaza collapse, many companies have not taken enough action to protect workers. Only three months ago we read about a tragic fire at a subcontracted factory outside of New Delhi.[ii]

So, to avoid more tragedies, we have to define responsibility at each stage of the supply chain.

This is challenging for an industry that is global in its reach but also fragmented and highly interconnected. The garment and footwear sector is characterised by many separate processes from growing, and spinning to manufacturing. Specialisation and subcontracting are also common practice. This can make room for abusive practices and terrible working conditions.

This is not just morally unacceptable, it’s bad for growth and it’s a harmful obstacle to development, standing in the way to delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which all countries agreed to in 2015. In particular Goal 12, which is “to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”.

The OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector provides just that – a common understanding of how companies can carry out due diligence to identify, prevent and mitigate challenges in their supply chains in-line with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

Policy coherence, particularly at the international level, reduces the risk of conflicting requirements, gaps in policies and government expectations.

The strength of this Guidance derives from its multi-stakeholder, consensus-based design process. It drew on input from both OECD and non-OECD countries, businesses at different levels of the supply chain, civil society, trade unions, and other experts. This Guidance is not just for you, it is by you.

As such, it recognises both the diversity of the sector as well as the complexity of the challenges faced. It recommends that companies take a collaborative risk-based approach to identify and mitigate harm, while as far as possible maintaining key business relationships.

By addressing risks in this way, companies have the potential to remain competitive, while addressing human rights, labour and environmental risks in their supply chain. The Guidance promotes an approach that is systematic, involving on-going, proactive and reactive processes with a strong focus on progressive improvement.

For example, the Guidance recognises the interconnectedness of business activities. Risks related to wages, forced labour, and health and safety are sometimes increased by short-term and inefficient purchasing practices.

To tackle this, the Guidance is the first international instrument that applies due diligence to a company’s purchasing practices. It also highlights the importance of engaging with workers themselves, who are so often left out of the discussion, but who bear the full brunt of its effects.

We are providing a powerful tool to improve working lives and make growth and globalisation more inclusive in a key sector for the global economy. But the launch is only the beginning: the real change will come with effective implementation.

Photo credit: OECD

Implementation will be vital to deliver a global industry that works for all

The OECD will support implementation every step of the way. Just as we have with our Due Diligence Guidance on Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas and the OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains. As our Secretary-General likes to say “Agreements make the headlines, but implementation changes lives”.

This afternoon you will have a special session on implementation, and tomorrow you will experience applying the Guidance in a real-world garment and footwear context through a scenario workshop. This is a valuable opportunity to exchange experiences, and anticipate practical challenges at the implementation stage.

You will also look in detail at supporting implementation for specific groups at high risk, including due diligence on sexual harassment and gender-based violence, and due diligence for the responsible employment of migrant workers.

Also tomorrow, you will hear garment and footwear sector perspectives on the OECD National Contact Point mechanism, which has proven highly effective in promoting the broader Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and supporting implementation and handling grievances.

The OECD will also continue to increase the reach and impact of our responsible business conduct tools by working closely with the G20 and G7.  After Schloss Elmau, the German G20 Presidency has already emphasised its commitment to make sustainable global supply chains a priority, and we will be there to provide the best policy expertise and data analysis to promote and measure progress.

And we will continue through our OECD Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct and through our close and growing engagement with China, and with India as two of our Key Partners, to promote adherence to and implementation of our standards, guidelines and guidance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have come a long way. But now is the time to make this Guidance a reality, to make it count for people, for people who work in some of the worst conditions imaginable. Agreements made the headlines, implementation changes lives. So I invite you to focus on implementation.  

This is really important to save lives. But it is also essential to build a more inclusive and human world. Let’s continue joining forces to ensure that they make the impact that you are all looking for.

Thank you.

[i] https://cleanclothes.org/resources/publications/factsheets/general-factsheet-garment-industry-february-2015.pdf/view

[ii] On 11 November 2016, 13 workers will killed in a garment factory fire on the outskirts of New Delhi. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/11/fire-kills-factory-workers-india-sahibabad-161111072912321.html


Telling the whole truth in a post-truth environment

In 2016, surprisingly for many, Oxford Dictionaries chose as their Word of the Year “post-truth”, an adjective defined as: “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”. This runs contrary to the main tenet of the OECD, the “house of best practices” whose works and analysis depend on high quality statistics and solid empirical evidence. So how did we get here, and what does it means for our democracies?

As the OECD’s G20 Sherpa, I witnessed the evolution of what was originally a financial crisis into an economic crisis, and more recently, after eight years of low growth and very slow recovery, into a political crisis defined by the lack of trust of people in the institutions that we built over so many decades. It is also clear that the values of openness, mutual assistance, and international integration on which the OECD was founded are being questioned.

One reason for this is that while we have told “the truth and nothing but the truth”, we have not told “the whole truth”. Like people gradually enclosing themselves in media silos and social networks that only give them news and views they are comfortable with, we have been happy to rely on economic models that work with comfortingly quantitative facts on GDP, income per capita, trade flows, resource allocation, productivity, and the like. These standard economic models did not anticipate the level of discontent that was created by the skewed outcomes that they were delivering, and that have prevailed for so many years.

Our “truths” did not capture very relevant dimensions that inform people’s decisions (including recent political decisions), and particularly those that are intangible or non- measurable concepts. This is why such important issues as justice, trust or social cohesion were just ignored in the models. Indeed, neoliberal economics taught us that people are rational, and that they will always take the best decisions according to the information they have to maximize utility. And that accumulation of rational decisions will deliver the best outcome on the aggregates. In this model there is no room for emotions or for concepts like fairness or resentment.

Populism, the backlash against globalisation, call it what you will, recognises these emotions. We should do so too, especially since we actually have the data and facts that gave rise to these feelings in the first place. I am referring to the increased inequalities of income and outcomes that almost all the OECD economies experienced even before the crisis and that the crisis made worse.

If we go beyond averages and GDP per capita and look at the distributional impact of our economic decisions for instance, the picture is devastating. Up to 40 percent of people in the lowest tenth of the income distribution in OECD countries (and 60% in my own country, Mexico) have not seen their situation improve in the last decades. On top of that, lower income groups accumulate disadvantages, as their initial condition does not allow them to access quality education and health care or fulfilling jobs, while their children are facing a sombre future with less chance of improving their lot. At the OECD we have confirmed this. Our data show that if you are born into a family whose parents did not reach higher education, you have four times less chance of reaching middle school. You may encounter more health problems, and have less fulfilling jobs and lower wages. You are trapped in a vicious circle of deprivation.

Even the loosely-defined middle classes in OECD countries are fearful for their future and that of their children. They too feel betrayed and are angry that despite working hard, saving and doing everything else that was supposed to guarantee a good life, they see the fruits of success being captured by a tiny elite while they are left behind. No wonder they are attracted to solutions that resonate with their emotions and seem to give them some hope.

What should an organisation like the OECD, committed to evidence-based policy advice, do in this context? First, we must speak out when there is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts and realities. Even if the people delivering these lies are not aware of it, it does not discharge them from the responsibility to check the evidence. Presenting a view that is based on lies by omission or on purpose should be recognised as such and not go unchallenged in the “post-truth” environment.

Second, instead of defending our selection of facts, recognise that they were also biased, and that in many instances they represented preconceived notions of how the economy functions that have been proven wrong. To rebuild trust in the facts we produce to explain social and economic phenomena, we must ensure that they really represent the whole reality and provide workable solutions. We may need to start, as the Chief Statistician of the OECD has said, “to measure what we treasure and not treasure what we measure”.

Most of all we need to understand that economic challenges are not just economic. That is why the OECD’s New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) initiative promotes a multi-dimensional view of people’s well- being, with tangible and intangible elements (including emotions and perceptions) all worthy of consideration. The NAEC agenda is ambitious, calling for a new growth narrative that recognises the complexity of human behaviour and institutions, and calls on sociology, psychology, biology, history, and other disciplines to help write this narrative and build better models to inform economic decisions.

We thought there was only one truth, and we promoted it without considering that it may have had faults. We defined reality in certain ways and ignored critics to the models. We strongly, and mistakenly, believed markets were the whole answer.

I think that as economists and policymakers, we should remember that in The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith was drawing conclusions from not just the methodology, but also the ethics and psychology he explored in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. We may need to enrich our models to ensure that the outcomes respond to people expectations, and help us to recover the most important ingredient in our societies, which is trust.

Desarrollar fuertes alianzas para afrontar los retos de México en materia de competencias

Las competencias son esenciales para la prosperidad y el bienestar futuros de la población mexicana

Las competencias son el cimiento a partir del cual México tendrá que construir su crecimiento y su prosperidad futuros. México, con una de las poblaciones más jóvenes de los países de la OCDE, cuenta con una fuerte ventaja demográfica y, por consiguiente, con una ventana de oportunidad única. Pero también enfrenta retos comunes para lograr que el nivel de competencias de su población cubra los requerimientos de la economía digital global.

Ahora es el tiempo de actuar. Es necesario que México fomente el desarrollo, la activación y el uso de competencias para impulsar la innovación y el crecimiento incluyente, y a la vez gestione con mayor eficacia problemas permanentes, pero cada vez más urgentes, como la mejora de la equidad y la reducción de la informalidad. Para tal fin, los objetivos planteados por la actual reforma educativa en México son fundamentales para garantizar una educación de calidad para todas las personas.

Sin embargo, hay retos por atender. De acuerdo con datos de la prueba 2015 del Programa para la Evaluación Internacional de Alumnos (PISA), muchos jóvenes mexicanos no están desarrollando altos niveles de competencias y un muy alto porcentaje de estudiantes muestra un desempeño deficiente en matemáticas (56.6%), lectura (41.7%) y ciencias (47.8%). Además, debido a las altas tasas de deserción escolar, sólo 56% de los jóvenes de 15 a 19 años de edad completan la educación media superior, cifra muy por debajo del promedio de la OCDE de 84%. De manera similar, en 2015, sólo 16% de la población de 25 a 64 años de edad había finalizado la educación terciaria, cifra significativamente menor que el promedio de la OCDE de 36%. A estos resultados se suma el hecho de que los jóvenes se conectan con el mercado laboral informal, lo que refuerza el carácter precario de sus oportunidades en este campo. Por consiguiente, pese a sus recientes avances, México mantiene un balance de competencias bajas.

De hecho, el país tiende a especializarse en actividades de bajo valor agregado relacionadas con mecanismos del empleo informal, que se estima representan 52.5% de todo el empleo. Los trabajadores de la economía informal tienen, en promedio, menos probabilidades de recibir capacitación y de participar en prácticas de alto rendimiento en el sitio de trabajo en las que se utilicen sus competencias con mayor eficacia; el resultado es que los empleos que obtienen son inciertos y de baja calidad. En consecuencia, es importante seguir trabajando en superar las barreras del lado de la demanda que desalientan a los empleadores de suscribir contratos formales, así como el alto costo que para las empresas entraña la contratación de trabajadores con bajos ingresos, un sistema fiscal complejo y duras regulaciones del mercado laboral. También se requerirá brindar apoyo focalizado, de modo que los jóvenes y las mujeres puedan ingresar al mercado laboral, y permanecer en él. En la actualidad, más de uno de cada cinco jóvenes no trabajan, ni estudian ni están en formación (NiNis) y corren el riesgo de caer en una permanente marginación, tanto del ámbito laboral, como de la educación y de la sociedad. Dadas las diferencias entre chicos y chicas que no trabajan ni asisten a la escuela, conviene prestar atención especial a la condición de las mujeres y apoyar su participación en empleos de alta calidad. México no puede desperdiciar el talento de la mitad de su población.

Es necesario adoptar más medidas para mejorar el uso de competencias en el sitio de trabajo. Se aprecian grandes desajustes en este ámbito: el nivel educativo de un cuarto de los trabajadores (26%) es excesivo y el de poco menos de un tercio (31%) es insuficiente  para su empleo actual. Se requiere que las empresas y las instituciones educativas cooperen con el fin de reducir estos desajustes desde su raíz y la capacitación financiada por las empresas ayudaría a los trabajadores poco cualificados. Al mismo tiempo, para que las empresas mexicanas sigan mejorando su productividad, ascendiendo por la cadena global de valor e incrementando la demanda de competencias más altas, es fundamental impulsar la innovación y la investigación. Sin embargo, en 2013, las empresas mexicanas invirtieron en I+D una cantidad equivalente a apenas 0.2% del PIB. Esta cifra no sólo es mucho más baja que el promedio de la OCDE, sino mucho más baja que el 3.3% del PIB que Corea invirtió en I+D durante el mismo periodo.

Conseguir que todo esto suceda en la práctica requiere una acción concertada por parte del gobierno. México ha emprendido diversas reformas orientadas a mejorar la calidad de la enseñanza, elevar la productividad, estimular la innovación y mejorar la integración en cadenas globales de valor. En efecto, uno de los datos positivos es que a últimas fechas la productividad aumentó como resultado de reformas recién implantadas, en particular en el mercado de telecomunicaciones.

Es preciso optimizar la eficacia de las instituciones gubernamentales y los acuerdos de colaboración formal entre las secretarías de Estado. La instauración del Comité Nacional de Productividad es bienvenida en este sentido, pero queda mucho por hacer. Ahora bien, los gobiernos no pueden lograr mejores resultados en términos de competencias por sí solos. El éxito dependerá del compromiso y las acciones de una amplia variedad de actores. Se requiere la ayuda de empleadores, sindicatos, estudiantes y formadores que son quienes, día con día, invierten en competencias, las movilizan y las ponen en práctica.

Mejores prácticas de otros países

Los países más exitosos en la movilización del potencial de competencias de su población comparten varias características: ofrecen oportunidades de alta calidad para aprender de forma permanente, tanto dentro como fuera de la escuela y el lugar de trabajo; desarrollan programas de educación y formación que son pertinentes para los estudiantes y para el mercado laboral; crean incentivos —y eliminan los factores disuasivos— para suministrar competencias al ámbito del trabajo; reconocen y utilizan al máximo las competencias disponibles en los sitios de trabajo; procuran anticipar las necesidades de competencias futuras, y propician la facilidad de encontrar y utilizar el aprendizaje y la información sobre el mercado laboral.

La Estrategia de Competencias de la OCDE ofrece a los países un marco para desarrollar políticas coordinadas y coherentes que apoyen el desarrollo, la activación y el uso eficaz de las competencias. En Noruega, nuestra colaboración demostró con claridad el valor de un enfoque de todo el gobierno para hacer frente a los retos añejos del país relacionados con las competencias. Los informes de diagnóstico y acciones incorporados en las medidas de política pública para mejorar la orientación vocacional y el acercamiento a adultos poco cualificados sirvieron como los cimientos de la nueva Estrategia Nacional de Competencias que se pondrá en marcha este año. Portugal utilizó nuestro proyecto para establecer una amplia participación de los actores en la definición de los retos clave relacionados con las competencias que el país enfrentaba a medida que salía de la peor crisis económica de su historia. Este año usaremos nuestro diagnóstico compartido para ayudar a diseñar acciones concretas dirigidas a impartir educación y formación de adultos en todo el país. Corea partió de los resultados de su informe de diagnóstico y del continuo apoyo de la OCDE para participar activamente con un gran número de partes interesadas en aspectos esenciales, como la empleabilidad de los jóvenes y el aprendizaje permanente.

México se encuentra en un contexto en el que muchos otros países se mueven a alta velocidad. La digitalización de la economía y el rápido ritmo del cambio requieren no sólo una buena base de conocimiento, sino también aprendizaje permanente y flexibilidad para adaptar las competencias a las cambiantes condiciones y demandas. El futuro del trabajo y la capacidad de anticipar las necesidades de los mercados en constante evolución debido al rápido avance tecnológico, es un reto común que todos los países intentan atender. México participó en el proyecto de la Estrategia de Competencias de la OCDE para trabajar con nosotros en promover las mejores prácticas de otros países que han logrado optimizar sus resultados en este campo.

Mapear en conjunto los retos en materia de competencias de México

Desde marzo de 2016, hemos trabajado estrechamente con México en aplicar el marco de la Estrategia de Competencias de la OCDE como parte de un proyecto de colaboración para desarrollar una estrategia nacional de competencias más eficaz. El equipo del Proyecto Nacional establecido por el gobierno mexicano para supervisar este proceso es coordinado por el Comité Nacional de Productividad (CNP) e incluye representantes de las secretarías de Hacienda y Crédito Público, de Educación, del Trabajo y de Economía, así como del Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT).  El CNP adoptó una posición crítica en este proceso, ya que plasma el espíritu de alianza dentro de las secretarías de Estado y con sectores clave de la economía y de la sociedad, a la vez que se centra en el nexo entre la productividad, el crecimiento incluyente y las competencias.

Los resultados de este trabajo se publican en el OECD Skills Strategy Diagnostic Report: Mexico, en el cual se establecen ocho retos de competencias para México. Estos retos se identificaron en el transcurso de varias rondas de debates con el equipo del Proyecto Nacional, en reuniones técnicas con los principales expertos de México y con las aportaciones de más de 100 actores como empleadores, sindicatos, proveedores de educación y expertos, incluso de otras organizaciones internacionales, reunidos durante dos talleres interactivos realizados en junio de 2016 y en septiembre de 2016 en la Ciudad de México.
Ocho retos en materia de competencias para México

Entonces, ¿cuáles son los principales retos en materia de competencias que México afronta hoy?


Respecto al desarrollo de competencias pertinentes, en el informe se concluye que México tendría que centrarse en:

  • Mejorar las competencias básicas de los estudiantes en educación obligatoria
  • Aumentar el acceso a la educación terciaria y a la vez mejorar la calidad y la pertinencia de las competencias desarrolladas en este nivel


En lo relativo a activar su oferta de competencias, México necesitará afrontar los retos de:

  • Eliminar barreras de los lados de la oferta y la demanda a la activación de competencias en el empleo (formal)
  • Impulsar la activación de competencias de grupos vulnerables

México podría utilizar con mayor eficacia las competencias que ya tiene al:  

  • Mejorar el uso de las competencias en el trabajo
  • Apoyar la demanda de mayores competencias para impulsar la innovación

Por último, México podría fortalecer la gobernanza general del sistema de competencias al:

  • Apoyar la colaboración entre el gobierno y los actores interesados para alcanzar mejores resultados en materia de competencias
  • Mejorar el financiamiento público y privado de competencias


Desarrollar una hoja de ruta compartida para la acción

Al ser el primer país de la OCDE de América Latina en emprender un proyecto de Estrategia Nacional de Competencias, México demostró su compromiso para aprovechar los datos comparativos internacionales y las buenas prácticas para atender sus propios retos en materia de competencias. De igual forma, este análisis del sistema mexicano de competencias será de gran interés para muchos otros países del mundo.

A lo largo de esta etapa inicial de diagnóstico, observamos de primera mano un fuerte compromiso por parte del gobierno, los empleadores y los sindicatos, así como por los proveedores de educación y formación, para mejorar los resultados de competencias de México.

La verdadera prueba está por venir: el diseño de acciones concretas para superar los retos de competencias que México enfrenta. El gobierno no puede mejorar las competencias por sí solo, por lo que el avance del diagnóstico a la acción requerirá un enfoque de todo el gobierno y de toda la sociedad.

La OCDE está dispuesta a contribuir a los esfuerzos continuos de México para alcanzar sus ambiciosos objetivos de diseñar e implantar mejores políticas en materia de competencias para obtener mejores empleos y vivir mejor.

OECD Skills Strategy Diagnostic Report: Mexico
Executive Summary (English)
Resumen ejecutivo (Spanish)
OECD Skills Strategy
Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC)

OECD Skills Outlook 2013: First results from the Survey of Adult Skills
OECD Skills Outlook 2015: Youth, Skills and Employability


Para mayores detalles sobre competencias y políticas en materia de competencias en el mundo, visite: www.oecd.org/skills




Building strong partnerships to tackle Mexico’s skills challenges

Skills are central to the future prosperity and well-being of Mexico’s people

Skills are the foundation upon which Mexico must build future growth and prosperity. Mexico, being one of the youngest populations among OECD countries, has a strong demographic advantage and thus a unique window of opportunity. But it also faces common challenges to bring the skills of its population up to the requirements of the global digital economy.

The time to act is now. Mexico needs to boost the development, activation and use of skills to drive further innovation and inclusive growth while dealing more effectively with longstanding, but increasingly urgent issues, such as improving equity and reducing informality. To this end, the aim of current educational reform in Mexico is a must to provide quality education to all the individuals.

However, challenges remain. According to the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) data many youth in Mexico are not developing high levels of skills with a very high share of students performing poorly in mathematics (56.6%), in reading (41.7%) and in science (47.8%). In addition, due to high drop-out rates only 56% of 15-19-year-olds complete upper secondary education, far below the OECD average of 84%. Similarly, on tertiary level only 16% of the population aged 25 to 64 years old in 2015 had attained tertiary education, which is significantly below the OECD average of 36%.  To these outcomes, we should add the fact that young people connect with informal labour market, reinforcing the precariousness of their job opportunities. Therefore, despite recent progress, Mexico still remains in a low-skill equilibrium.

Indeed, Mexico tends to specialise in low value-added activities linked to informal employment arrangements, which are estimated to account for 52.5% of all employment. Workers in the informal economy are, on average, less likely to: receive training, participate in high performance workplace practices that make more effective use of their skills, and find themselves employed in precarious and low quality jobs. Therefore, demand-side barriers which discourage employers from hiring formally should continue to be addressed, as well as the high cost to firms for hiring low income workers, a complex tax system, and heavy labour market regulations.  Targeted support will be also needed if young people and women are to enter and remain engaged in the labour market. Over one in five young people are currently neither in employment, education, or training (NEETs), risking becoming permanently marginalised – from the labour market, from education, and from society. Given the differences between boys and girls not in employment or in schools, special emphasis should be placed on women’s conditions, and to sustain their involvement with high quality jobs. México cannot be losing the talent of half of its population.

More needs to be done to improve the use of skills in the workplace. There are significant skills mismatches with a quarter of workers (26%) over-educated and just under a third (31%) under-educated for their current job. Companies and educational institutions need to co-operate to reduce these mismatches at source, while firm-sponsored training could help the low-skilled. At the same time boosting innovation and research are critical if Mexican firms are to continue improving productivity, move up the global value chain, and increase the demand for higher skills. But in 2013, Mexican businesses invested the equivalent of just 0.2% of GDP in R&D. That’s not just well short of the OECD average but well below Korea’s 3.3% of its GDP investment in R&D during the same time period.

Making this all happen in practice requires concerted government action. Mexico has undertaken a number of reforms aiming to enhance the quality of teaching, raise productivity, stimulate innovation and improve integration into global value chains. Actually, one of the positive pieces of news is that productivity has increased recently as a result of recent reforms, particularly in the telecommunications market.

It is necessary to improve effectiveness of government institutions, and formal collaboration arrangements across ministries. The National Productivity Committee is good news in this sense – but much remains to be done. Yet governments cannot achieve better skills outcomes alone. Success will depend on the commitment and actions of a broad range of stakeholders. The help of employers, trade unions, students and trainers is needed. These are the people who, each and every day, invest in skills, set skills in motion and put them to work.

Best practices of other countries

Countries that are most successful in mobilising the skills potential of their people share a number of features: they provide high-quality opportunities to learn throughout life, both in and outside school and the workplace; they develop education and training programmes that are relevant to students and the labour market; they create incentives for, and eliminate disincentives to, supplying skills in the labour market; they recognise and make maximal use of available skills in workplaces; they seek to anticipate future skills needs and they make learning and labour market information easy to find and use.

The OECD Skills Strategy provides countries with a framework for developing co-ordinated and coherent policies that support the development, activation, and effective use of skills. In Norway, our collaboration clearly demonstrated the value of a whole of government approach to tackle the country’s longstanding skills challenges. The diagnostic and action reports fed into policy measures to improve career guidance and outreach to low-skilled adults – and served as the foundations for the new National Skills Strategy to be launched this year. Portugal used our project to build broad stakeholder engagement in defining the key skills challenges facing the country as it emerged from the worst economic crisis of its history. This year we will be using our shared diagnosis to help design concrete actions to provide adult education and training across the country. Korea has built on the results of its diagnostic report and ongoing OECD support to engage actively with a wide range of stakeholders on critical issues such as youth employability and lifelong learning.

Mexico finds itself in a context with many other countries moving at a high speed. The digitalization of the economy and the rapid pace of change require not only a good knowledge basis, but also lifelong learning and the flexibility to adapt skills to changing conditions and demands. The future of work and the capacity to anticipate the evolving needs of the markets, due to the rapid technological progress, is a common challenge that all countries are trying to address.  Mexico has been participating in the OECD Skills Strategy project to work with us to advance the best practices of other countries that have been able to improve their outcomes in this field.

Mapping Mexico’s skills challenges together

Since March 2016, we have been working closely with Mexico in applying the OECD Skills Strategy framework as part of a collaborative project to build a more effective national skills strategy. The National Project Team established by the Mexican government to oversee this process is co-ordinated by the National Productivity Committee (NPC) and includes representatives from Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Economic Affairs and the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT).  The CNP has been critical in this process, as it embodies the spirit of partnership across government ministries and with key sectors of the economy and society as well as focuses on the nexus between productivity, inclusive growth and skills.

The results of this work are published in the OECD Skills Strategy Diagnostic Report: Mexico that sets out 8 skills challenges for Mexico. These challenges were identified in the course of several rounds of discussions with the National Project Team, technical meetings with Mexico’s leading experts and input from over 100 stakeholders such as employers, trade unions, education providers and experts including from other International Organizations,  gathered during two interactive workshops held in June 2016 and September 2016 in Mexico City.
Mexico’s 8 skills challenges

So what are the main skills challenges facing Mexico today?

With regard to developing relevant skills, the report concludes that Mexico should focus on:

  • Improving the foundation skills of students in compulsory education
  • Increasing access to tertiary education while improving the quality and relevance of the skills developed in tertiary education.

When it comes to activating its skills supply, Mexico will need to tackle the challenges of:

  • Removing supply and demand-side barriers to activating skills in (formal) employment.
  • Boosting the skills activation of vulnerable groups.

Mexico could make more effective use of the skills it already has by: 

  • Improving the use of skills at work.
  • Supporting the demand for higher skills to boost innovation

Finally, Mexico could strengthen the overall governance of the skills system by: 

  • Supporting collaboration across government and stakeholders to achieve better skills outcomes
  • Improving public and private skills funding.


Building a shared road-map for action

As the first OECD country from Latin America to embark upon a National Skills Strategy country project, Mexico has demonstrated its commitment to leveraging international comparative data and good practice to tackle its own skills challenges. Equally, this analysis of Mexico’s skills system will be of great interest to many other countries around the world.

Throughout this initial diagnostic phase, we have witnessed first-hand a strong commitment to improving Mexico’s skills outcomes across government, employers and trade unions, as well as education and training providers.

The true test lies ahead, in designing concrete actions to tackle the skills challenges facing Mexico. Government cannot achieve better skills outcomes alone, so moving from diagnosis to action will require a whole of government and a whole of society approach.

The OECD stands ready to contribute to Mexico’s ongoing efforts to achieve its ambitious goals in designing and implementing better skills policies for better jobs and better lives.

OECD Skills Strategy Diagnostic Report: Mexico
Executive Summary (English)
Executive Summary (Spanish)
OECD Skills Strategy
Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC)

OECD Skills Outlook 2013: First results from the Survey of Adult Skills
OECD Skills Outlook 2015: Youth, Skills and Employability


For more on skills and skills policies around the world, visit: www.oecd.org/skills



Éditoriale de Presse, Résultats du PISA 2015 (France)

Il y a quinze ans, l’OCDE a commencé à évaluer les systèmes éducatifs du monde entier en testant les connaissances et les compétences des élèves de 15 ans à travers le Programme international de l’OCDE pour le suivi des acquis des élèves (PISA). Nous avons constaté dès la première étude en 2000 que, bien que se situant au niveau de la moyenne des pays de l’OCDE, les résultats de la France révélaient déjà un système dans lequel la situation socio-économique des enfants surdéterminait leurs résultats scolaires, et où les enfants issus des milieux sociaux défavorisés n’étaient pas suffisamment soutenus.
Les résultats de l’enquête OCDE-PISA 2015 viennent de tomber. Même si la performance de la France ne s’est pas détériorée depuis 2012, elle ne montre guère d’amélioration par rapport aux cycles précédents.
Les résultats de la France en sciences et en mathématiques se situent dans la moyenne des pays de l’OCDE, tandis que la performance en compréhension de l’écrit est légèrement au-dessus de la moyenne. Toutefois, le système en France reste trop dichotomique : tenu par ses bons élèves, dont la proportion est stable et supérieure à la moyenne des pays OCDE, mais ne s’améliorant pas par le bas, avec une proportion d’élèves de 15 ans en difficulté en sciences toujours au-dessus de cette même moyenne OCDE. D’après l’évaluation PISA 2015, les élèves des milieux les plus défavorisés ont quatre fois moins de chances de réussir que les autres. Ceci ne représente pas seulement une tragédie humaine, mais également un frein au développement économique, qui n’est solide et pérenne que quand il est inclusif.
Concilier excellence et réussite scolaire pour tous est non seulement le meilleur moyen de s’attaquer aux inégalités sociales à la racine, mais aussi d’obtenir de bonnes performances. Les résultats globaux illustrent diverses bonnes pratiques mises en oeuvre à travers le monde pour améliorer l’égalité et la performance du système éducatif. À titre d’exemple, au Portugal, le programme des Territoires éducatifs d’intervention prioritaire (TEIP) cible son investissement sur les zones géographiques dont la population est défavorisée sur le plan social et où les taux d’abandon scolaire sont supérieurs à la moyenne nationale. À Singapour, qui devance tous les autres pays de PISA en sciences, les enseignants sont évalués à l’aide d’une grille de compétence exhaustive, qui inclut notamment la contribution au développement personnel et académique des élèves, ainsi que la qualité de la collaboration avec les parents.
En somme, la capacité d’un système à faire progresser ses élèves en difficulté, et ceux issus d’un milieu défavorisé, améliore la qualité générale du système et donc sa performance globale. Cependant, en France, l’investissement déployé dans l’éducation n’atteint pas toujours ces milieux. J’ai d’ailleurs moi-même vécu personnellement une illustration de ce dysfonctionnement : à mon arrivée en France, quand j’ai demandé des recommandations d’écoles primaires pour mes enfants, on m’a répondu : « ne choisissez pas votre école, mais plutôt votre quartier ». Comment venir à bout du lien subordonnant nos chances de réussite à l’école et dans la vie quand ce lien est lié à notre code postal ?
La France a déjà mis en oeuvre des réformes qui vont dans la bonne direction. En lien avec les recommandations de l‘OCDE, davantage de ressources, d’enseignants, de bourses et de soutien ont été déployés en faveur des élèves défavorisés. La Loi d’orientation et de programmation pour la refondation de l’école de la République du 8 juillet 2013 visant à lutter activement contre le décrochage et l’échec scolaire dès le plus jeune âge marque une étape importante. La mise en oeuvre récente des nombreuses réformes qui en découlent, dans le primaire et au collège, pourrait ainsi répondre, en fonction des modalités de leur mise en pratique, à certains enjeux actuels et contribuer à améliorer les résultats et la formation des élèves. Il est bien sûr trop tôt pour prendre la mesure des effets de ces réformes récentes dans les résultats de l’enquête PISA 2015. Elles étaient néanmoins nécessaires et devront être approfondies et évaluées régulièrement. Les enseignants joueront – comme dans d’autres pays avant la France – un rôle fondamental dans ces réformes, et doivent à ce titre s’en approprier les grandes lignes. Il conviendra donc de poursuivre la réforme du métier d’enseignant et de la placer au rang des priorités d’action.
Il importe surtout de souligner que, contrairement à une idée reçue assez répandue en France, les résultats de PISA 2015 démontrent que les réformes visant à réduire les inégalités sociales et scolaires ne conduisent pas à un nivellement par le bas des performances. Bien au contraire, dans les pays ayant entrepris de telles réformes, la proportion d’élèves en échec scolaire a en général reculé au cours des 10 années suivantes, alors même que celle des bons élèves a augmenté. Ainsi, parmi les pays de l’OCDE, le Canada, la Corée, le Danemark, l’Estonie, la Finlande, le Japon, la Norvège et le Royaume-Uni sont autant d’exemples de pays parvenus à atteindre des niveaux élevés de performance en sciences et d’équité en termes de résultats scolaires, tels qu’évalués par l’enquête PISA 2015.
Nous avons choisi les sciences comme priorité d’évaluation de l’enquête PISA 2015. Une bonne compréhension des sciences et des technologies qui en découlent est indispensable, surtout à l’ère de la révolution numérique. Cette nécessité vaut non seulement pour ceux dont la carrière dépend directement de la science, mais aussi pour tous les citoyens soucieux de prendre position de manière éclairée dans les nombreuses questions qui agitent notre monde aujourd’hui, de la santé au développement durable, en passant par le réchauffement climatique. De nos jours, chacun doit être capable de « réfléchir comme un scientifique ».
Dans une perspective plus large, l’éducation est fondamentale en cette période difficile, alors que le populisme semble monter en flèche, que la France a été bouleversée par plusieurs attaques terroristes, et que les inégalités sociales dans le monde ont laissé pour compte un grand nombre de citoyens qui ne font plus confiance aux institutions. Plus que jamais, nous devons investir dans l’éducation scientifique de nos enfants, afin de répondre à cette ère post-factuelle par un dialogue ouvert et éclairé. Plus que jamais, nous devons renforcer nos systèmes éducatifs pour faire face à ces défis nous menaçant toujours de plus de divisions.