For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Skills in the Age of Over-Qualification: Comparing Service Sector Work in Europe

by Lloyd, Caroline; Payne, Jonathan (2016)


Across the developed world, most of us who work now earn our living in the service sector. However, the issue of what kind of service economy is sustainable and desirable, both in economic and social terms, is rarely debated. This book argues that this needs to change. National governments have emphasised the role of skills in achieving international competitiveness, higher living standards, and social inclusion. However, even prior to the 2008 financial crisis, problems of over-qualification, skills wastage, and poor job quality were becoming difficult to ignore. This raises important questions about what kind of service sector jobs will be on offer to meet the aspirations of an increasingly qualified workforce and what role can governments play in raising the skills required in jobs and the quality of jobs and services? Work organisation and job design are key factors shaping the skill content of work and the opportunities workers have to deploy their skills and capabilities. Through cross-national comparative research, this book examines whether and why service sector jobs vary across countries. Drawing upon detailed empirical research, the jobs of vocational teacher, fitness instructor, and café worker in the UK, Norway, and France are compared, allowing an exploration of the role of national institutions, sectors, and organisations in shaping work organisation and job quality. The findings contribute to the comparative study of work organisation, the relationship between skills and performance, the role and purpose of education and the prospects for better jobs in 'the age of over-qualification'.


Skills, Education, Knowledge, Understanding, Qualitifations, Over-Qualification



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