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Australia’s national skilling system and its trajectory: A model and analysis for the period 2001- 2006


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Fraser, D 2009 , 'Australia’s national skilling system and its trajectory: A model and analysis for the period 2001- 2006', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis uses models drawn from innovation theory to define a construct and conceptual
model of the National Skilling System as an alternative to conventional equilibrium models
of the creation and deployment of skill in the economy. The model incorporates and
provides a framework for locating ideas developed in European institutional economics
since the 1980s and in the tradition of labour market economics particularly associated with
SKOPE in the UK and the Workplace Research Centre in Australia. The model is built
around a dynamic interaction between supply, demand and deployment, with the key output
being the amount and type of skill that is converted into productivity across the economy at
any point in time.
Based on this model, a specification and metric are proposed for tracking the skills
trajectory of a national or sub-national economy, a concept extensively used by earlier
authors but hitherto lacking an unambiguous or operational definition. The metric is based
on separate but linked indices of skill-intensity and task discretion, derived from Spenner
and modelled on the structure of the UK Skills Surveys, but with substantial modification
to accommodate the less rich data available for Australia.
As a first step towards operationalising the model, data from HILDA, an annual panel
survey of 8,000 Australian households, are used to analyse patterns of skill-intensity in
Australian jobs over the six waves of data currently available and the influences behind
them. Australian respondents appear from these data to be more satisfied than their UK
counterparts with the degree of skill they exercise in their jobs, the opportunities their work
provides for on-the-job learning, and the amount of control they have over their work.
However, there is no evidence over this period of aggregate growth in skill-intensity. The
significant changes in the key indicators of skill-intensity have been small but uniformly
negative, while the trend for task discretion has been flat, slightly declining or slightly
positive depending on the measurement method. The analysis examines the distribution of
these trends by workforce category and age cohort, and finds significant discrepancies
between skill-intensity and task discretion in individual occupations, especially at the
higher-skilled end. Possible explanations and policy implications are considered, together
with recommendations for follow-up research

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Fraser, D
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