During the second quarter of 2020, manufacturing production fell sharply in most countries around the world, with the notable exception of China where output had already returned to moderate growth. On current estimates, UNIDO expects a decline in global manufacturing value added of 8.4 per cent for the year as a whole, which would make 2020 the worst year on official records for the sector.
In the second quarter of 2020 (April-June), global manufacturing output fell by 11.2 per cent compared with the same quarter in the previous year, according to official figures from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). The dramatic drop reflects the economic impact of measures imposed to halt the spread of COVID-19, which overshadowed all other negative influences on the sector, including higher trade barriers and the impact of Brexit.
UNIDO anticipates ongoing disruptions to manufacturing over the coming months as the world continues to grapple with the impacts of the pandemic. “Based on this scenario, and on developments in manufacturing linked to other economic variables, UNIDO is forecasting a fall in global manufacturing value added of 8.4 per cent in 2020, which would mark the biggest collapse in output since official records began,” UNIDO Chief Statistician Fernando Cantu said.
Some countries are likely to be harder hit than others, with China expected to record a more modest drop of 1.6 per cent compared with the United States and Europe’s industrialized economies where value added in 2020 is forecast to plummet by 15 per cent and 14.3 per cent, respectively.
Cantu noted, however, that more time was needed to assess the full impact of containment measures on households, businesses and government balance sheets. In addition, he cautioned that “recent developments in several countries point to a possible second wave of the pandemic, which could require the return of harsher economic restrictions, with knock-on effects on supply and demand”.
Figures for the second quarter show a wide divergence between China and the rest of the world, as well as between and within developing and industrialized economies. China was one of the first countries to impose a lockdown and most of the impact was felt during the first three months of the year. By the second quarter, China’s manufacturing output had already returned to growth, increasing by 2.8 per cent year-on-year, led by industries such as computer electronics (11.2 per cent), electrical equipment (6.8 per cent) and machinery (6.3 per cent).
On the other hand, the data for developing and emerging industrial economies (excluding China) show a markedly gloomier picture, with second-quarter output plunging by 22 per cent on the year following a 2.3 per cent drop in the first quarter.
The hardest hit geographical region was Latin America, where manufacturing output fell by 24.2 per cent year-on-year, followed by Asia and the Pacific, which saw a 23.7 per cent drop.
In industrialized economies, second-quarter manufacturing output sank by 16.4 per cent as economic recessions started to bite in many major economies. Europe’s manufacturing production dropped by 19.3 per cent, making it the worst-affected industrialized region, according to the UNIDO report. The sharp decline intensified a trend seen in previous quarters, particularly affecting export-oriented economies, amid ongoing trade frictions with the United States and the uncertainty surrounding the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.
Given the characteristics of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, there were substantial differences in manufacturing output per sector in recent months. For example, production of essential goods and supplies, such as food and pharmaceutical products, was less affected than other industries. Production of basic pharmaceuticals in all country groups in the second quarter of 2020 showed moderate growth, while the production of capital and durable goods, such as machinery and motor vehicles, dropped sharply over the same period due to shrinking demand.
The full report is available here.
New Skills Development Key to Further Improving Students’ Learning Outcomes
Learning outcomes in Russia would benefit significantly from a focus on teaching new skills that are tailored to the modern labor market, says a new World Bank report, New Skills for a New Century: Informing Regional Policy.
Russia’s education system has traditionally been well-performing and efficient, with Russian students appearing among the top performers globally. However, today’s labor market requires “21st century skills” – a combination of skills, knowledge, and expertise that students need to succeed in the modern world.
“Russia’s education system could achieve better teaching and learning outcomes if it focused more on developing 21st-century skills,” says Tigran Shmis, World Bank Senior Education Specialist. “There is a strong relationship between the quality of the school environment, innovative teaching practices, students’ perception of school, and students’ learning outcomes.”
According to the report, 38 percent of Russian schools today are not equipped with workshops and 46 percent do not have scientific laboratories. And, 77 percent of educational institutions do not have dedicated places for integrated lessons that stimulate the development of new skills and team interaction.
The way teaching is delivered, the physical characteristics of the learning environment, and the school’s psychological climate all affect students’ learning results. The study provides an insight into how these factors impact the development of students’ skills, including 21st century and digital skills. Along with data analytics, the study includes a qualitative perspective of modern teaching and learning in Russia, as well as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on teaching and learning.
“Developing the ability of students to master 21st century skills is critical to ensuring their future employment and career success,” says Renaud Seligmann, World Bank Country Director for Russia. “Studies in Russia have shown that businesses having access to workers with these skills will also be critical for growth and productivity. In turn, high-quality human capital is a cornerstone of the resilience and sustainability of the national economy.”
The report provides recommendations for how schools in Russia can better help students excel. For example, teachers who practice innovative teaching are more likely to drive higher achievement. Modern teaching practices can be supported by expanding the use of technology and enhancing the learning environment in classrooms. Technology should be made available in schools on an equitable basis to improve student learning and enhance teachers’ professional development. Education policymakers should prioritize the prevention of bullying and the development of supporting measures to ensure a positive school climate.
Despite the physical return of students to schools, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing continued learning losses. Therefore, new equipment, ICT, and innovative teaching methods are needed to enable teachers to improve their practices and compensate such learning losses.
Post-COVID-19, regaining citizen’s trust should be a priority for governments
The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated governments’ ability to respond to a major global crisis with extraordinary flexibility, innovation and determination. However, emerging evidence suggests that much more could have been done in advance to bolster resilience and many actions may have undermined trust and transparency between governments and their citizens, according to a new OECD report.
Government at a Glance 2021 says that one of the biggest lessons of the pandemic is that governments will need to respond to future crises at speed and scale while safeguarding trust and transparency. “Looking forward, we must focus simultaneously on promoting the economic recovery and avoiding democratic decline” said OECD Director of Public Governance Elsa Pilichowski. “Reinforcing democracy should be one of our highest priorities.”
Countries have introduced thousands of emergency regulations, often on a fast track. Some alleviation of standards is inevitable in an emergency, but must be limited in scope and time to avoid damaging citizen perceptions of the competence, openness, transparency, and fairness of government.
Governments should step up their efforts in three areas to boost trust and transparency and reinforce democracy:
Tackling misinformation is key. Even with a boost in trust in government sparked by the pandemic in 2020, on average only 51% of people in OECD countries for which data is available trusted their government. There is a risk that some people and groups may be dissociating themselves from traditional democratic processes.
It is crucial to enhance representation and participation in a fair and transparent manner. Governments must seek to promote inclusion and diversity, support the representation of young people, women and other under-represented groups in public life and policy consultation. Fine-tuning consultation and engagement practices could improve transparency and trust in public institutions, says the report. Governments must also level the playing field in lobbying. Less than half of countries have transparency requirements covering most of the actors that regularly engage in lobbying.
Strengthening governance must be prioritised to tackle global challenges while harnessing the potential of new technologies. In 2018, only half of OECD countries had a specific government institution tasked with identifying novel, unforeseen or complex crises. To be fit for the future, and secure the foundations of democracy, governments must be ready to act at speed and scale while safeguarding trust and transparency.
Governments must also learn to spend better, according to Government at a Glance 2021. OECD countries are providing large amounts of support to citizens and businesses during this crisis: measures ongoing or announced as of March 2021 represented, roughly, 16.4% of GDP in additional spending or foregone revenues, and up to 10.5% of GDP via other means. Governments will need to review public spending to increase efficiency, ensure that spending priorities match people’s needs, and improve the quality of public services.
Sweden: Invest in skills and the digital economy to bolster the recovery from COVID-19
Sweden’s economy is on the road to recovery from the shock of the COVID-19 crisis, yet risks remain. Moving ahead with a labour reform to facilitate adaptation in a fast-changing economic environment, and investing in digital skills and infrastructure, will be crucial to revive employment and build a sustainable recovery, according to the latest OECD Economic Survey of Sweden.
The pandemic triggered a severe recession in Sweden, despite mild distancing measures and swift government action to protect people and businesses. GDP fell by less than in many other European economies in 2020, thanks to reinforced short-time work, compensation to firms for lost revenue and measures to prop up the financial system, but unemployment still rose sharply. Solid public finances provided room for further stimulus in 2021 to buttress the recovery.
The Survey recommends maintaining targeted support to people and firms until the pandemic subsides, then focusing on strengthening vocational training and skills and increasing investment in areas like high-speed internet and low-carbon transport. Addressing regional inequality, which is low but rising, should also be a priority as the recovery takes hold.
The Survey shows that Sweden has been among the most resilient OECD countries in the face of a historic shock. Yet, like other economies, it faces challenges from demographic changes and the shift to green, digital economies. Investments in education and training, and labour reforms along the lines negotiated by the social partners, will support job creation and strengthen economic resilience. Building on Sweden’s leadership in digital innovation and diffusion will also be key for driving productivity.
After a 3% contraction in 2020, interrupting several years of growth, the Survey projects a rebound in activity with 3.9% growth in 2021 and 3.4% in 2022 as industrial production resumes and exports recover. The recovery in world trade is bolstering the Swedish economy, however the country remains vulnerable to potential disruptions in global value chains.
|The pandemic has aggravated a mismatch in Sweden’s job market, with unfilled vacancies for highly qualified workers coinciding with high unemployment for low-skilled workers and immigrants. The public employment service needs strengthening to provide better support to jobseekers, including immigrants and women, and labour policies should strike the right balance between supporting businesses and workers and supporting transitions away from declining businesses towards growing sectors.|
A rising share of youths and older people in the population, especially in remote areas, is affecting the finances of local governments, which provide the bulk of welfare services. Strengthening local government budgets and ensuring equal welfare provision across the country will require providing tax income to poorer regions more efficiently and raising the economic growth potential across regions through investments in innovation. Improving coordination between government entities and reinforcing the role of universities in local economic networks would help achieve that aim.
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