Skills in Business: The Role of Business Strategy, Sectoral Skills Development and Skills Policy


Johnny Sung & David N. Ashton

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Dedication

    To our children:

    Bethany Raddon-Sung, Kate Ashton, Dr Heidi Ashton and Wendy Ashton


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    About the Authors

    David N Ashton is Emeritus Professor at the University of Leicester and Honorary Professor at the University of Cardiff. He established the Centre for Labour Market Studies at Leicester University in 1989 as a centre for research and teaching on skills and labour market issues. He has researched and published extensively on skill formation, human resource development, and the analysis of national systems of workforce development and training. His most recent book with Professor Brown and Lauder is The Global Auction. The Broken Promises of Education, Jobs and Income (2011, Oxford University Press).

    He has provided consultancy services to various government departments within the UK concerned with issues of education, business and skills and most recently the United Kingdom Commission for Employment and Skills. Outside the UK he has provided consultancy services to government departments in South Africa, Singapore, the EU and to international agencies such as the International Labour Organisation and World Bank.

    Johnny Sung works at the Institute for Adult Learning, Singapore Workforce Development Agency. He is Head of the Centre for Skills, Performance and Productivity, conducting three strands of national research: a) Skills utilisation and job quality in Singapore; b) The sectoral approach to skills and performance in key industry sectors; c) Adult competencies and job performance.

    Prior to the appointment in Singapore, Johnny was Chair of Skills and Performance at the University of Leicester (UK). He carried out research projects for UK government agencies, research councils, professional bodies, international agencies such as the International Labour Office, the World Bank and other national governments. Professor Sung is also currently Honorary Professor at Cardiff University (UK).


    The ideas in this book have had a long gestation period. Over the past decade we have been working together on a variety of projects funded by research councils and government departments and agencies in a number of countries. Most of that research has been involved in case study work with organisations both public and private, which has enabled us to test and refine our ideas. So we have numerous organisational leaders, human resource (HR) directors and industry experts to thank for their time and input into our work. In addition, we have presented the ideas to numerous participants on the postgraduate courses we have taught in the UK, Ireland and Europe, and their inputs, usually as HR professionals, have been very useful. Academically, we have had discussions with many colleagues but would like to acknowledge Phil Brown, Hugh Lauder, Ewart Keep, Francis Green, Geoff Mason and Mark Spilsbury as colleagues with whom we have had longstanding conversations on skills issues over a number of years from which we have greatly benefited.

    This book has a strong policy focus that stems from our constant engagement with the policy process at both national and international levels and our conviction that the research process combined with good theory can make a substantial contribution towards more effective policy. In the UK, we would like to acknowledge staff at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and in Singapore at the Workforce Development Agency, especially Dr Gog Soon Joo who shared with us her idea of ‘institutional logics’ for changing employers’ competitive behavior. We would also like to acknowledge the contribution of anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript. At SAGE Publications, we would like to thank Ms Gemma Shields for her excellent editorial support.

    Last but not least, we would like to thank our families, who have been so tolerant in allowing us time and space to write this book. In this respect, we would like to thank Dr Arwen Raddon and Maureen Ashton for their constant support and encouragement, without which this project would not have been possible.

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