When do skills become obsolete, and when does it matter?

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The Economics of Skills Obsolescence

ISBN: 978-0-76230-960-3, eISBN: 978-1-84950-175-0

ISSN: 0147-9121

Publication date: 19 September 2002


In our analyses, using data on Dutch tertiary education graduates, we use a direct measure for skills obsolescence based on workers' self-assessment. On average, almost a third of the skills obtained in tertiary education were obsolete seven years later. Skills obsolescence is strongly related to rapid changes in work domain, and to shortcomings in tertiary education. Obsolescence occurs as much in generic as in specific fields of study. It is only weakly related to current skill shortages, and not at all to the prospects for further skill acquisition, wages and investments in additional training.


Allen, J. and van der Velden, R. (2002), "When do skills become obsolete, and when does it matter?", de Grip, A., van Loo, J. and Mayhew, K. (Ed.) The Economics of Skills Obsolescence (Research in Labor Economics, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 27-50. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0147-9121(02)21004-3

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