Kate Mullock’s curiosity to learn how policy can improve well-being is what drew her to pursue a master’s degree in economics at UBC.
She’s taken her curiosity all the way to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, where she works her “dream job” as a labour market economist.
“This job affords me the ability to travel and engage with policy experts all over the world,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to learn more about other countries and how their policies differ from Canada’s, and what Canada can learn and teach other countries.”
At the OECD, Mullock (MA ‘07) uses her knowledge gained at UBC to evaluate policies, analyze data and build analytical frameworks.
The OECD is an international think tank that has 35 member countries, including the U.K., the U.S., Japan, and Canada, and is considered a hub for global policy discussions.
“I see my role here as advising governments in their policy responses to the changing demand for skills,” said Mullock. “It’s so important that adults have opportunities to retrain so that they don’t get left behind as technology changes what we do at work.”
One recent project that proved particularly exciting for Mullock was working with the Australian government on financing training policies.
“There are so many similarities between Australia and Canada. They’re both federations, geographically vast, and have such a diverse population,” she said.
Her role involved identifying the barriers that prevent adults from training more and then making policy recommendations that would support greater participation in training. She built an inventory of the different financial incentives to promote training in the country, including tax incentives, grants, employer subsidies, and analyzed the pros and cons of each for supporting participation in training.
However, there are times when there is a lot of back-and-forth with stakeholders about what ends up in the final report.
“We have to go in with a lot of humility, because we’re appealing to their expertise, and we’re foreign analysts looking into a country’s policies,” she said. “But at the end of the day, the discussions lead to learning and hopefully better policies.”
Mullock owes her success in policy analysis to her time at UBC.
“The policy evaluation course I took with Prof. Craig Riddell has been one of the most useful courses on a very practical level,” she said. “I carried out evaluations of Canadian policies when I worked in the federal government, and in my current role, I use the knowledge to evaluate the quality of evidence that appears in journal articles and policy notes.”
One of Mullock’s next projects will bring her closer to home. She is set to work with the Canadian government in a review of its adult learning and workforce innovation programs.