Rediscovering Braverman?: Political Economy, Skill, and Skill Shortages
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Published with permission: Australian Bulletin of Labour
The debate over skill and skill shortages is full of complexity and contradiction. For example, just what is meant by skill and skill shortages is, at the very least, open to debate (Shah and Burke 2005). Furthermore, at the same time as Grugulis and Lloyd (2010, p. 92) point to a shift away from attempts to locate skill within a broader analysis of capitalist development and towards a narrower explanation of particular trends and concepts, theories are emerging about the changing nature of the economy - the knowledge economy, for example - which have major implications for the nature of skill and skill formation. Skill shortages are used to justify importing skilled labour from outside the state and country, echoing more generally a disproportionate focus on supply side issues in the debate (Hall 2011), at the same time as skill itself, once seen as a driver of prosperity, is placed alongside productivity as the driver of prosperity (Keep and Mayhew 2010). Internationally, this is reflected in policy documents which are 'couched in terms that ring with evangelical zeal' about the competitive and social importance of the supply of skills (Hayward and James 2004, p. 1).
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