Challenges for skill formation in evolving industry: The case of the Australian building and construction industry

Year: 2001

Author: Hager, Paul, Crowley, Suzanne, Melville, Bernice

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Over the last decade, the Australian building and construction industry has undergone unprecedented change under the rubric of 'workplace reform'. This paper will report on a funded research project that investigated aspects of this workplace reform in the industry, particularly its implications for skill formation. The project centred on the role of generic (or 'soft') skills or competencies in the reformed workplace. Occupational health and safety and environmental practices were investigated closely as examples of changing work practices that increasingly required new approaches to work and its organisation. While changing work practices have gained significant acceptance, the reality of the increasing fragmentation of the industry (growth of subcontracting, outsourcing, labour hire, etc.) has put significant cost pressures on many players. This has served to limit the extent of real reform, as well as creating major challenges for the provision of skill formation. The implications of these developments for skill formation policy will be discussed in this paper.