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Rethinking How Establishment Skills Surveys Can More Effectively Identify Workforce Skills Gaps

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  • Schwalje, Wes

Abstract

Through a multicountry, practice-based review of establishment skills surveys, this article identifies conceptual issues with defining and measuring skills gaps. By harmonizing divergent conceptualizations, an operational definition of skills gaps as a situation in which current employees lack the skills to perform their jobs which results in the compromised ability of a firm to meet business objectives is proposed. This operationalization of the concept offers a more complete answer to how firms are impacted by workforce deficiencies in achieving business objectives implying that understanding job proficiency without assessing the organizational context in which workforce skills are deployed towards market objectives is insufficient. By addressing measurement issues, an alternative approach to establishment skills surveys is advanced that can play a more effective role in determining how workforce skills influence achievement of firm business objectives. The open systems model of the firm is used to explain how skills gaps serve as a bottleneck to the overall functioning of the firm and to demonstrate that firm mitigation strategies are subject to managerial perceptions which can influence the effectiveness and level at which strategies are targeted. A typology of the causes of skills gaps is also proposed as a starting point for government intervention.

Suggested Citation

  • Schwalje, Wes, 2012. "Rethinking How Establishment Skills Surveys Can More Effectively Identify Workforce Skills Gaps," MPRA Paper 37192, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:37192
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/37192/1/MPRA_paper_37192.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Keane, Michael P., 2010. "Structural vs. atheoretic approaches to econometrics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 3-20, May.
    2. Caves, Richard E, 1980. "Industrial Organization, Corporate Strategy and Structure," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 64-92, March.
    3. Green, Francis & Machin, Stephen & Wilkinson, David, 1998. "The Meaning and Determinants of Skills Shortages," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 60(2), pages 165-187, May.
    4. Schwalje, Wes, 2011. "A Conceptual Model of National Skills Formation for Knowledge-based Economic Development," MPRA Paper 30302, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2010. "Microeconomic Approaches to Development: Schooling, Learning, and Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 81-96, Summer.
    6. repec:sae:niesru:v:128:y::i:1:p:40-57 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Shah, C & Burke, G, 2005. "Skills Shortages: Concepts, Measurement and Policy Responses," Australian Bulletin of Labour, National Institute of Labour Studies, vol. 31(1), pages 44-71.
    8. Schultz, Theodore W, 1975. "The Value of the Ability to Deal with Disequilibria," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 827-846, September.
    9. Joerg Freiling, 2004. "A Competence-based Theory of the Firm," management revue. Socio-economic Studies, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 15(1), pages 27-52.
    10. Erik Hoelzl & Aldo Rustichini, 2005. "Overconfident: Do You Put Your Money On It?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(503), pages 305-318, April.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    skills formation; skills gaps; skills shortages; establishment skills surveys; workforce development policy; skills gap causes; skills gap impacts; skills gap mitigation;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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