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The empirical determination of key skills from an economic perspective


  • Jasper Van Loo
  • Bert Toolsema


Notwithstanding an impressive research tradition on key skills, no clear statistical criterion exists that is suitable to determine which skills may be considered key skills. This contribution proposes one possible methodology that can be used to identify key skills. Proposing an economic definition of the key skill concept and disentangling the direct and indirect effects of skills on productivity, we develop an empirical criterion for the identification of key skills. We apply this methodology to a dataset of employed vocational education graduates. We find that problem-solving skills, independence, oral presentation/speaking skills, accuracy/carefulness and initiative/creativity may be considered key skills.

Suggested Citation

  • Jasper Van Loo & Bert Toolsema, 2005. "The empirical determination of key skills from an economic perspective," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(2), pages 207-221.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:13:y:2005:i:2:p:207-221
    DOI: 10.1080/09645290500031421

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stevens, Margaret, 1994. "A Theoretical Model of On-the-Job Training with Imperfect Competition," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(4), pages 537-562, October.
    2. Gary S. Becker, 1962. "Investment in Human Capital: A Theoretical Analysis," NBER Chapters, in: Investment in Human Beings, pages 9-49, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Andy Dickerson & Francis Green, 2004. "The growth and valuation of computing and other generic skills," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(3), pages 371-406, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bruno Škrinjarić, 2022. "Competence-based approaches in organizational and individual context," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 9(1), pages 1-12, December.

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