This chapter analyses skill in work through a broader political economy lens that allows for greater understanding of the competing and complementary priorities and experiences of multiple actors – individuals, employers and the state primarily – in relation to skills and the potential for approaches to skills in work to drive, or to thwart, individual economic and social progress. It begins by considering the challenges in defining, understanding and analysing skills and then examines the value of skills both in terms of returns to having skills and qualifications and in terms of the organisational processes and practices for skills valuation. Then it considers key trends in workforce and workplace skill and looks beyond the ‘possession’ of skills to consider how these are deployed in the workplace. Finally, it considers approaches to skills in distinct country and institutional settings and the possibility of a more progressive agenda for skills and the challenges.
Patricia Findlay, Colin Lindsay and Graeme Roy
The choices that managers make and the strategies that they deploy in the workplace have important impacts on employee performance and wellbeing, organisational performance and productivity. Learning from effective management practice is particularly important as businesses, sectors and communities seek to bounce back from the impact of COVID19. This chapter reviews the evidence underlying five interlinked ESRC research projects exploring: the relationship between job resources and levels of work engagement and innovation; the value of wellbeing strategies in supporting improved employee performance; the challenges of improving employee engagement in micro-enterprises; the benefits of effective conflict mediation in workplaces; and the evidence base on how management practices can support innovation. The chapter concludes by outlining a future research agenda for exploring the inter-relationships between business management, employee performance and productivity.