In recent decades, the global economy has experienced a profound transformation due to trade integration and technological progress as well as important political changes. This transformation has been accompanied by significant positive effects at the global level, as increased trade integration has helped to raise incomes in advanced and developing economies, lifting millions out of poverty. At the same time, it has translated into changes experienced by individuals, companies and communities. While overall, better job opportunities are on the rise, workers who are forced to leave their existing jobs may find it difficult to share in these improvements.
Policies aimed at facilitating adjustment can reduce the number of those left behind by trade or technology, while at the same time raising the net gains from these developments, improving overall efficiency and boosting incomes.
Given the role of skills in productivity and in trade performance as well as in access to employment and wage distribution, a strong emphasis on skills development is vital for both firms and workers. This publication argues that in the current fast-changing context of globalization, where technology and trade relations evolve rapidly, the responsiveness of skills supply to demand plays a central role not only from an efficiency perspective, but also from a distributional perspective. Featuring results from the ILO’s Skills for Trade and Economic Diversification (STED) programme, this report shows that appropriate skills development policies are key to helping firms participate in trade, and also to helping workers find good jobs.