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Moving beyond skills as a social and economic panacea


  • Ewart Keep

    (ESRC Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance, Cardiff University)

  • Ken Mayhew

    (ESRC Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance, Department of Education, Oxford University)


This article examines two inter-related issues. First, the tendency for UK skills policies to act as a substitute for other social and economic measures. Second, the problem of current conceptualisations of skills policy creating narrowly-drawn, technicist interventions that are frequently incommensurate with the scale of the problems which they purport to tackle. The article suggests that current policy formation processes, particularly in England, are being deployed in a manner that seeks to close off consideration of other potential avenues by which contemporary social and economic problems might be addressed. The case is made for a wider framing of both policy possibilities and avenues for relevant research to support such policy development.

Suggested Citation

  • Ewart Keep & Ken Mayhew, 2010. "Moving beyond skills as a social and economic panacea," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 24(3), pages 565-577, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:woemps:v:24:y:2010:i:3:p:565-577

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    Cited by:

    1. Tony Dobbins & Alexandra Plows & Huw Lloyd-Williams, 2012. "Labour precariousness and make do and mend after redundancy at Anglesey Aluminium: critiquing Human Capital Theory," Working Papers 12007, Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales).
    2. Jim Stewart & Sally Sambrook, 2012. "The Historical Development of Human Resource Development in the United Kingdom," Working Papers 12013, Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales).
    3. Tony Dobbins & Alexandra Plows, 2014. "Regional Economic Transition in Wales: The Role of Labour Market Intermediaries," Working Papers 14005, Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales).
    4. Francis Green & Alan Felstead & Duncan Gallie & Hande Inanc & Nick Jewson, 2016. "The Declining Volume of Workers’ Training in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 54(2), pages 422-448, June.

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    jobs; skills; social equality;


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