“Skills have become the currency of 21st Century economies.” — Andreas Schleicher, OECD Education Vice President
Once someone asked Thomas Friedman, author of World is Flat, “What’s your favorite country, other than your own?”
“Taiwan? Why Taiwan?” he replied, “Because Taiwan is a barren rock in a typhoon-laden sea with no natural resources to live off of yet it has the fourth-largest financial reserves in the world.
Because rather than digging in the ground and mining whatever comes up, Taiwan has mined its 23 million people, their talent, energy and intelligence — men and women.
According to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, “There is a significant negative relationship between the money countries extract from national resources and the knowledge and skills of their high school population, this is a global pattern that holds across 65 countries that took part in the latest PISA assessment.”
According to the latest PISA results, students in Singapore, Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan stand out as having high PISA scores and few natural resources, while Qatar and Kazakhstan stand out as having the highest oil rents and the lowest PISA scores.
So hold the oil, and pass the books.
Knowledge and skills have become the global currency of 21st-century economies, but there is no central bank that prints this currency. Everyone has to decide on their own how much they will print.
- Skills: The global currency of the 21st century by Andreas Schleicher
- Better Skills. Better Jobs. Better Lives: A Strategic Approach to Skills Policies | OECD (2012)