Governments risk missing out on digital benefits, warns OECD chief

23 Jun 16

Governments must stop “dithering” on enhancing the digital economy or risk missing out on its huge economic and social benefits, the OECD has warned.


Angel Gurría speaking at the press conference in Paris yesterday. Credit: OECD/Andrew Wheeler

Angel Gurría. Credit: OECD/Andrew Wheeler


Speaking at the think-tank’s annual ministerial meeting on the digital economy in Cancun, Mexico, OECD secretary-general Angel Gurría said legislation and policies on everything from education to investment were not keeping pace with the rapid pace of digital innovation.

“Too many countries are taking a 20th century approach to 21st century technology that is moving faster than any other the world has seen,” Gurría said.

“The internet is profoundly transforming the way we live and work, but we could be getting a lot more out of it. The longer we dither on the digital economy, the less benefit we will get out of it as societies.”

He said that to foster a vibrant and innovative digital economy, a number of challenges need to be addressed, including access to the internet and individuals’ skills. There are also highlighted big differences in uptake between large firms and SMEs in technologies like cloud computing, which are key to boosting productivity.

Two thirds of people that participated in one OECD survey were found to lack the basic skills needed to function in technology-rich environments, Gurría pointed out.

Governments must ensure that life-long learning opportunities exist and individuals have the ability to develop the skills needed in a world that “changes by the day”.

“The ongoing digitalisation of our economies and societies will not stop,” he stressed. "We must be ready to make the most of it.”

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