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Re-thinking skill through a new lens: Evidence from three Australian service industries
journal contributionposted on 22.03.2018, 00:00 by E Smith, Julian Teicher
The purpose of this paper is to provide another perspective on the problematic nature of the concept of skill and in particular a tendency to place a lower value on certain types of job in the service sector than those in other industries. Qualitative research was conducted in three service industries in Australia, comprising interviews with key industry stakeholders, case studies in two companies for each of four occupations, and validation by a forum of industry experts. We present evidence of the existence of substantial levels of skill in occupations which are traditionally considered low-skilled. The data are utilised to create a new model which represents factors which contribute to perceptions of skill in occupations. The analysis extends and deepens current understanding of aspects of skill, primarily, but not only, building on social construction theory to posit a new model for analysing skill. New factors are added to the analysis of skill in occupations. The project was exploratory and covered only four occupations in three industry areas. The method could be utilised in a broader-scale project. The paper is designed to contribute to debates on the nature of skill and also has policy and practical implications in the fields of human resource practice and training. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.