ERIC Number: ED346284
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Apr-21
The Rhetoric of Skill Requirements.
Darrah, Charles N.
The "rhetoric of skill requirements" is a way of describing work by decomposing the human contribution into distinct components. Three important characteristics of this rhetoric are especially germane to an understanding of work. The first characteristic is that jobs and their incumbents can be fully analyzed by breaking them down into skills. Three challenges to the adequacy of the concept of skill are as follows: (1) the rhetoric decomposes a job into skills but leaves unanswered how this bundle of skills is articulated into a skilled worker; (2) it seemingly removes the person as a concrete actor from the discussion of work; and (3) it explains outcomes in the workplace by explicating the skills people do or do not have. The second characteristic is that skills are "required" in some obvious way. Three lessons may be drawn from workplace examples: (1) skills are labeled as important or required by people for specific reasons; (2) the sense in which a skill is required can be unclear; and (3) skill "requirements" are not derived in any simple way from asking people about their jobs or observing them at work. The third characteristic is that context is peripheral to skill. Workplace experience shows that context affects the opportunities that workers have to exercise skills and their motivations to do so and context need not be a simple backdrop to action. Context should be incorporated into the rhetoric of skill requirements to provide a clearer understanding of what is involved in "work." (17 references) (YLB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA, April 20-24, 1992).