Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance

Internal and External Incentives to Engage in Education and Training – a Framework for Analysing the Forces Acting on Individuals?

Much of SKOPE’s research over the last decade has had two linked, underlying themes. First, that of complexity within the patterns of demand for, and the supply and usage of, skill. Second, the consequent requirement for more finely- grained, deep-seated and systemic approaches to research in order to map and then make sense of existing patterns naming and Schon, 1987) both the nature and the causes of education and training (E&T) policy problems, lest an imprecise or careless definition of the issue(s) to be tackled leads to inappropriate and hence sub-optimal policy interventions (Keep and Mayhew, 1999).

In much the same way, we would now urge the need for a reconceptualisation of the issue of incentives and incentive structures as they impact upon individual actors when they are thinking about engaging and investing in learning. The contention of this paper is that without such a fresh approach the likelihood that policy interventions within the E&T system can produce the much desired step change in either the demand for or supply of skill are liable to be slender. A failure to generate a sufficiently holistic understanding of how incentives impact on decision making also hinders current attempts to boost achievement by students from lower socio-economic group backgrounds and improve social mobility.

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