“Skills” is a central concept in a number of academic and policy debates. Yet measurement of skills of labour force remains highly problematic. The dominant approach uses signals of individual capacities (e.g. level of education) as a proxy of skills. This paper develops and tests a methodology for more direct measurement of skills by focusing on how individuals perform their tasks rather than what they could be capable of doing.
The proposed theoretical framework assumes that skills used at workplace represent the skills an individual has. This is captured by the analysis of how tasks are performed. Level of skills-in-use is measured at three dimensions: degree of uncertainty, level of autonomy and opportunities for continuous skill-building. Empirical analysis utilises survey data on 29 European countries.
First, the paper proposes a novel methodology for measuring skills. Second, it uses data from European Working Conditions Survey to measure skills of workforce in 29 European countries.
The depth of indicators used for measurement of skills could be further expanded, if additional questions could be inserted in the pan-European surveys.
Findings suggest that the quality of employment domain (tasks, technologies, work organisation, etc.) could be as important as formal education systems in upgrading the skills of labour force.
The paper proposes and tests a methodology for more direct measurement of skills than the ones previously employed in academic and policy debates.
Research was carried out during postdoctoral research fellowship awarded by Research Council of Lithuania. Postdoctoral fellowship is being funded by European Union Structural Funds project “Postdoctoral Fellowship Implementation in Lithuania”. The author would like to thank prof. Palmira Jucevičienė for inspiration and useful comments on earlier drafts of the paper.
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