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Skill: An Elusive and Ambiguous Concept in Labour Market Studies


  • Esposto, A.


The concept of skill and its measurement has been central in contemporary discussions of labour market issues. Such issues as the rise in earnings inequality and changes to the skill composition of employment have served to highlight the limitations of definitions of skill and the problems that these pose for analysis of labour market changes. This paper argues that current measures of skill contain numerous limitations and ambiguities. Part of the reason is that the concept is complex and ill defined. This paper suggests that a more robust and detailed definition of skill is imperative. Furthermore, definitions and measures of skill used in the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) provide an advanced and more useful background for skill measurement and analysis than current measures. Such an approach would be beneficial to adopt in Australia, as it would provide a broader, more accurate and detailed understanding of the nature of occupations, issues related to skill and skill shortages, and labour market change.

Suggested Citation

  • Esposto, A., 2008. "Skill: An Elusive and Ambiguous Concept in Labour Market Studies," Australian Bulletin of Labour, National Institute of Labour Studies, vol. 34(1), pages 100-124.
  • Handle: RePEc:fli:journl:26132
    Note: Esposto, A. 2008. Skill: An Elusive and Ambiguous Concept in Labour Market Studies. Australian Bulletin of Labour, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 100-124.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Roberts, Anna M. & Pannell, David J. & Doole, Graeme & Vigiak, Olga, 2012. "Agricultural land management strategies to reduce phosphorus loads in the Gippsland Lakes, Australia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 106(1), pages 11-22.
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    Cited by:

    1. Natalia Shmatko, 2012. "Competences of Engineers. Evidence from a Comparative Study for Russia and EU Countries," Foresight and STI Governance (Foresight-Russia till No. 3/2015), National Research University Higher School of Economics, vol. 6(4), pages 32-47.
    2. Noel, Jay & Qenani, Eivis, 2013. "New Age, New Learners, New Skills: What Skills Do Agribusiness Graduates Need to Succeed in the Knowledge Economy?," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), vol. 16(3).
    3. Noel, Jay E. & Qenani, Eivis, 2012. "New Age, New Learners, New Skills: What Skills Do Graduates Need to Succeed in the New Economy?," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 123948, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Alexis S. Esposto & Luis Federico Giménez, 2011. "The extent of upskilling of the argentine labor market: a simple analysis," Estudios Economicos, Universidad Nacional del Sur, Departamento de Economia, vol. 28(56), pages 37-56, january-j.

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