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Are Australian jobs becoming more skill intensive? Evidence from the HILDA dataset


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Fraser, D 2008 , 'Are Australian jobs becoming more skill intensive? Evidence from the HILDA dataset', paper presented at the VET in Context - AVETRA 2008, 3-4 April 2008, Adelaide.

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Available under University of Tasmania Standard License.


Labour market policy rhetoric since the 1980s has promoted the view that jobs in
industrialised counties, if they are to survive the pressures of global competition, will need to
place ever-increasing demands on the skills of the workforce. This paper describes a study
designed to test this proposition on a representative sample of the Australian working
population over the period from 2001 to 2005. The data come from HILDA (Household,
Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia), a panel survey of some 6,000 households and
18,000 individuals conducted annually since 2001. The dataset includes three indicators
representing a common metric across industries, occupations and levels in the workforce
hierarchy of the degree to which jobs “stretch” the skill base of those who work in them,
together with three variables covering task discretion and worker autonomy, which past
research has shown to be highly correlated with skill-intensity. These data make it possible
for the first time to duplicate in Australia, albeit in lesser detail, the landmark research on the
skills trajectory of the UK economy carried out over the last twenty years for the Economic
and Social Research Council. Initial analyses suggest that in the aggregate, Australian jobs
were less skill-intensive in 2005 than in 2001, a counter-intuitive trend for which an
explanation has still to be found.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Authors/Creators:Fraser, D
Additional Information:

Winner of the Best Paper Award 2008 at the AVETRA 2008 conference.

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