For the last 30 years most OECD countries have shown both a slowdown in fertility rates and a rise in life expectancy. It is safe to say that countries will see both a reduction in participation in the labour force and the pool of skills being supplied to the labour market. The stock of skills available in the economy is a function of the size of the working-age population and the level of skills these people possess. Thus, demographic trends, such as ageing societies, need to be taken into consideration when designing forward-looking skills policies.
One of the reasons why ageing societies may not have an adequate supply of skills is because some valuable skills and experience disappear when workers retire. OECD countries should ensure that the stock of valuable skills for the labour market grows and does not decline. Encouraging skilled people who may be out of the labour market to supply their skills to the labour market is a big part of the solution. Likewise, encouraging older workers to continue working and to delay their retirement, as well as encouraging inactive youth and adults to supply their skills to the labour market are some policies that economies may have to work on.
Nevertheless, the challenge exists in all societies, ageing or not, to stimulate its young generation to obtain the skills needed in the labour market. Their skills determine the future of our societies. Tackling and preventing unemployment as well as helping young people to gain a foothold in the labour market are crucial policies to be addressed by all of us.