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ERIC Number: EJ811117
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Feb
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 57
ISSN: ISSN-1598-1037
Labour Perspectives on the New Politics of Skill and Competency Formation: International Reflections
Sawchuck, Peter
Asia Pacific Education Review, v9 n1 p50-62 Feb 2008
Skill/competency approaches to workplace-based policy seek to assess and train for discrete individual competencies with the goal of increasing employability and productivity. These approaches have become increasingly prominent across a range of advanced capitalist countries. A substantial critique has emerged over this same period regarding issues of instrumentality and social control, as well as the failure of skill/competency approaches to articulate a meaningful understanding of human learning capacities. In this article, these critical perspectives are clarified further by a review of contributions to understanding the skill/competence question emerging from sociology of work literature. Building from these critiques, this article outlines recent experiences with and perspectives on skill/competency frameworks amongst different national labour movements. Included in this outline is a more detailed, comparative analysis of Norway and Canada; here we see the lofty "new", "knowledge economy" rhetoric--in two countries where one might expect to see it blossom in application--brought down to earth by the realities of industrial relations, employer intransigence and intra-labour movement differences. "Skill/competence" proves to be a floating signifier that, amongst both employers and labour, stands as a proxy for "power/control" struggles. Degenerating in this way, from a labour perspective, the new politics of skill/competency formation is seen to have spiraled toward irrelevance in Norway and Canada; awaiting, in both countries, a re-invigoration through attention to changes in the participatory structure of the labour process itself. (Contains 11 notes.)
Education Research Institute, Seoul National University. Department of Education, 599 Kwanak-Ro, Kwanak-Gu, Seoul 151-748, South Korea. Tel: +82-2-880-5896; Fax: +82-2-889-6508; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada; Norway