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Employers' Perspectives on the Roles of Human Capital Development and Management in Creating Value

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  • Bo Hansson
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    Human capital – the productive capacity that is embedded in people – is one of the most important contributors to the growth in nations’ output and standard of living. Globalisation and technological change have increased the importance of human capital in recent years, to the point that there are now only two options to sustain high profits and high wages in developed nations: escalating the skill levels of individuals or developing superior capacity for managing those skills and “human capital” more broadly. Employers have responded to these new phenomena by increasing wages for employees with more skills and by increasing their use of downsizing and other methods (such as “offshoring”) intended to reduce labour costs. There is little evidence, however, that such efforts by employers have improved profits, productivity, or stock price performance. Employer-provided training for employees represents one method of improving the skill level of a nation’s workforce. Although long-standing economic theory suggests that existing incentives for employers and employees should naturally yield the delivery of an optimal level of training, there is new awareness of a variety of market failures that may be causing a sub-optimal level of training, despite evidence that points to a positive relationship between employer-provided training and firm outcomes (productivity, profitability, employee retention, customer retention, stock performance). Le capital humain – la capacité productive qui est une partie intégrante de chacun – est une des plus importantes contributions à la croissance économique et des niveaux de vie des nations. La mondialisation et les changements technologiques ont augmenté l’importance du capital humain ces dernières années, au point qu’il existe désormais seulement deux options pour maintenir des profits importants et de hauts salaires dans les pays développés : intensifier les niveaux de compétences des personnes ou développer une plus grande capacité à gérer ces compétences et le « capital humain » de façon plus étendue. Les employeurs ont répondu à ces nouveaux phénomènes en augmentant les salaires des employés plus qualifiés et en ayant plus souvent recours à la réduction de personnel et à d’autres méthodes (telles que le « offshoring ») dans le but de réduire le coût de la main-d’oeuvre. Il n’est cependant pas vraiment prouvé que de tels efforts de la part des employeurs aient augmenté les profits, la productivité ou encore les performances des résultats boursiers. La formation des employés fournie par les employeurs représente une méthode d’amélioration du niveau de compétences de la main d’oeuvre d’un pays. Bien qu’une théorie économique de longue date suggère que les motivations pour les employeurs et les employés devraient naturellement réaliser la provision d’un niveau de formation optimal, il a été récemment fait le constat d’une variété de failles du marché qui peut résulter à un niveau sous-optimal de la formation, malgré les preuves démontrant une relation positive entre la formation fournie par l’employeur et les résultats des entreprises (productivité, rentabilité, maintien des employés dans l’entreprise, maintien de la clientèle, résultats boursiers).

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    Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Education Working Papers with number 18.

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    Date of creation: 19 Jan 2009
    Handle: RePEc:oec:eduaab:18-en
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