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The Evolution of Skills in OECD Countries and the Role of Technology


  • Alessandra Colecchia
  • George Papaconstantinou


The aim of this paper is two-fold: to highlight stylised facts about recent trends in the skill distribution of employment and to analyse the role that technological change might have in explaining these dynamics. Data on industrial employment broken down by occupation recently assembled by the OECD Secretariat are used to examine the changing skill composition of OECD economies, the occupational structure of industry and services, and the dynamics of upskilling. They show that in most OECD countries during the 1980s, employment grew fastest in high-skilled jobs and slowest – or declined – in low-skilled jobs. The upskilling trend is more apparent in manufacturing than in services, while overall the shift to higher skilled jobs has occurred primarily within industries, rather than between them. Econometric work that explores the role of technology in the changing skill mix in five of the G7 countries in the 1980s shows that upskilling has occurred faster in industries that have ... L’objectif de ce document est double : mettre en évidence les grandes lignes de l’évolution récente de la structure de l’emploi par niveau de qualification et analyser le rôle que peuvent y jouer les mutations technologiques. Les données sur l’emploi industriel ventilées par profession, récemment réunies par le Secrétariat de l’OCDE, permettent d’examiner l’évolution de la structure des économies de l’OCDE par niveau de qualification, la structure professionnelle des industries et des services et la dynamique du relèvement des qualifications. Ces données font apparaître que dans la plupart des pays de l’OCDE, au cours des années 80, l’emploi s’est accru plus rapidement dans les professions hautement qualifiées et plus lentement – dans les professions peu qualifiées – lorsqu’il n’a pas reculé. Le relèvement des qualifications est plus patent dans les industries manufacturières que dans les services, mais dans l’ensemble cette évolution au profit des emplois plus qualifiés est ...

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandra Colecchia & George Papaconstantinou, 1996. "The Evolution of Skills in OECD Countries and the Role of Technology," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 1996/8, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:stiaaa:1996/8-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Piva, Mariacristina & Santarelli, Enrico & Vivarelli, Marco, 2005. "The skill bias effect of technological and organisational change: Evidence and policy implications," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 141-157, March.
    2. Fulvio Castellacci, 2007. "Technological regimes and sectoral differences in productivity growth ," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(6), pages 1105-1145, December.
    3. Adriaan van Zon & Robert Antonietti, 2004. "On the Role of Education and Training as Drivers of Growth," DEGIT Conference Papers c009_027, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    4. Tomaso Pompili & Michela Martinoia, 2011. "Building Synthetic Indicators For Aspects Of Territorial Capital Towards Their Impact On Regional Performance," ERSA conference papers ersa11p1528, European Regional Science Association.
    5. Michela Martinoia, 2014. "Local resources and territorial performance. Measures of natural, cultural and human capital," LIUC Papers in Economics 278, Cattaneo University (LIUC).
    6. Hollanders, Hugo & ter Weel, Bas, 2002. "Technology, knowledge spillovers and changes in employment structure: evidence from six OECD countries," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(5), pages 579-599, November.
    7. Seoghoon KANG & Dong-Pyo HONG, 2002. "Technological Change And Demand For Skills In Developing Countries: An Empirical Investigation Of The Republic Of Korea'S Case," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 40(2), pages 188-207, June.
    8. M. Gulenay Ongan Baskaya & Erkan Erdil, 2003. "Technological Change and ICTs in OECD Countries," STPS Working Papers 0301, STPS - Science and Technology Policy Studies Center, Middle East Technical University, revised Jan 2003.
    9. Serguei Kaniovski & Michael Peneder, 2002. "On the structural dimension of competitive strategy," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 557-579, June.
    10. Craig de Laine & Patrick Laplagne & Susan Stone, 2001. "The increasing demand for skilled workers in Australia: the role of technical change," Labor and Demography 0105005, EconWPA.
    11. Bruinshoofd, Allard & Weel, Bas ter, 1998. "Skill-biased technical change: On technology and wages in the Netherlands," Research Memorandum 021, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    12. Morris Teubal, 1997. "Restructuring and Embeddeness Of Business Enterprises - Towards An Innovation System Perspective On Diffusion Policy," DRUID Working Papers 97-6, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
    13. Lavoie, Marie & Roy, Richard & Therrien, Pierre, 2003. "A growing trend toward knowledge work in Canada," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 827-844, May.

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