The Swedish Model in the Post-Financial Crisis Era
Edited by Christina Garsten, Jessica Lindvert and Renita Thedvall
Few people question the benefits of skills training in working life. Research shows that skills development creates profitable workplaces and strengthens the health and well-being of employees (Ellström 1996; Holmer 2006: 23; Nilsson 1996; Rönnqvist and Thunborg 1996; Thång 2006). Access to skills development at different employers is mapped on a regular basis by quantitative compilations documenting which employees are offered training, and how access varies according to occupational group, gender and age group, and over time (Statistics Sweden). We know from these studies that those who already have good formal skills and knowledge tend to get more, while those with weaker formal competency get less. People with high education are given access more than low-educated people, public-sector employees participate more than employees in the private sector, and the proportion of women who take part is larger than the proportion of men (Ds 2002:47; Statistics Sweden 2007; SCB 2008; SOU 2000:115; Wikman 2001). In the chapter, we take the discussion one step further and show that formal access to skills development in working life and actual ability to participate in skills development are not always the same thing. The reasoning concerning actual ability is inspired by the work of Amartya Sen. Based on the concept of capabilities, Sen criticizes traditional economics’ method of measuring economic and social development (1982, 1988, 1993). According to Sen, national economics has singly focused on the resources offered to people.
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