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Skill Mismatch and Skill Transferability: Review of Concepts and Measurements

Ljubica Nedelkoska and Frank Neffke

No 1921, Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) from Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography

Abstract: The notion of skills plays an increasingly important role in a variety of research fields. Since the foundational work on human capital theory, economists have approached skills through the lens of education, training and work experience, whereas early work in evolutionary economics and management stressed the analogy between skills of individuals and the organizational routines of firms. We survey how the concept of skills has evolved into notions such as skills mismatch, skill transferability and skill distance or skill relatedness in labor economics, management, and evolutionary approaches to economics and economic geography. We find that these disciplines converged in embracing increasingly sophisticated approaches to measuring skills. Economists have expanded their approach from quantifying skills in terms of years of education to measuring them more directly, using skill tests, self-reported skills and job tasks, or skills and job tasks reported by occupational experts. Others have turned to administrative and other large-scale data sets to infer skill similarities and complementarities from the careers of sometimes millions of workers. Finally, a growing literature on team human capital and skill complementarities has started thinking of skills as features of collectives, instead of only of individuals. At the same time, scholars in corporate strategy have studied the micro-determinants of team formation. Combined, the developments in both strands of research may pave the way to an understanding of how individual-level skills connect to firm-level routines.

Keywords: Human capital; skills and tasks; skill relatedness; skill mismatch; skill transferability (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J24 J62 P25 L16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-06, Revised 2019-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-geo, nep-hpe, nep-hrm and nep-tid
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