Skills in Australia: towards workforce development and sustainable skill ecosystems

Richard Hall, Russell D. Lansbury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


This article argues that there is a need to move beyond narrow ways of thinking about training to incorporate broader notions of ‘workforce development’ and ‘skill ecosystems’. A market-based approach to skills development is contrasted with a social consensus model, which takes a more integrated view of how skills are formed and sustained. However, following a review of Australia's brief and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to develop something akin to a social consensus approach, we argue that there is much to be gained from a workforce development approach and an understanding of skill formation as occurring in the context of skill ecosystems. To be most effective this approach to skill formation requires the facilitation of networks and nurturing of partnerships among the different agents and agencies concerned with skill development. Recent initiatives in Australia that explicitly adopt a skill ecosystem and workforce development orientation demonstrate the potential of these approaches to overcome many of the problems associated with currently dominant market-based approaches and avoid the pitfalls of social consensus models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-592
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • skill ecosystems
  • skills
  • vocational education and training
  • workforce development

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