Skill has always been a central element of industrial relations (IR). In Britain many of the early trade unions and friendly societies formed around skilled trades, to negotiate pay levels, the differentials available for skill or experience and ensure the development of skills (see, for example Cockburn, 1983; Penn, 1984; Thelen, 2004). Skill affects the way work is designed and organized and influences, or stems from, the levels of power, discretion and autonomy that workers have over work processes (Turner, 1962). It is also a key aspect in the way that firms, industrial sectors and nations compete. Indeed, high skills have the potential to both raise wages and improve firm and national competitiveness (Culpepper, 2001). Unsurprisingly then, what skills are formed, how ...