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COVID-19 highlights need to scale investment in lifelong learning: OECD
By TII News Service
Jun 16, 2021 , Paris

    

COUNTRIES must step up their efforts to enable people to continue learning throughout their lives to navigate a rapidly changing world of work shaped by globalisation and the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD said public policies should play a key role in facilitating effective and inclusive lifelong learning and it will be crucial to invest part of the resources devoted to the recovery to lifelong learning programmes, involving all key stakeholders and with a focus on vulnerable groups.

"It is essential that lifelong learning becomes a reality for everyone since the crisis has further accelerated the transformation in our economy and skills needs. Today, too many adults do not participate in workplace learning and the pandemic has further reduced their opportunities to do so," said OECD Secretary-General Mr Mathias Cormann.

"In the recovery efforts, skills will make the difference between staying ahead of the curve or falling behind in a world in constant flux. Countries need to invest part of the resources devoted to the recovery to lifelong learning programmes, involving all key stakeholders and with a specific focus on vulnerable groups – including young people, women and workers whose jobs are most at risk of transformation," he added.

Even before the pandemic, only two out of 10 low-educated adults took part in formal or on-the-job training, compared to 60 per cent of high-educated adults. Participation in adult learning also differs greatly across countries: fewer than 25 per cent of adults in Greece, Italy, Mexico and Turkey report participating in adult learning, compared to over 55 per cent in Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden.

The pandemic may also affect the learning attitude of children and youth, said the report. The disruptions to regular schooling led many children to progress less than expected in skill development.

In the short term, the pandemic could lead to increases in early school leavers. In the medium and long term, lower engagement could result in the current generation of students failing to develop positive learning attitudes, at a time of profound structural changes that will require individuals to upgrade their skills throughout their life, warns the report.

Furthermore, the report identifies potential cause of gender inequality in training opportunities. Up to 28 per cent of "inactive but motivated" women mention family obligations as a barrier to participating in training, compared to only 8 per cent of men.

 
 
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