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To what extent is the skills shortage debate instrumentally informing policy makers in the private sector?

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posted on 13.05.2021, 11:24 by Tadiwa Muradzikwa
Using a qualitative approach, the thesis explores comparatively whether the skills shortage debate in Zimbabwe and Canada is influencing private sector recruitment and training policies. Though, numerous scholarly works have explored the skills shortage debate, the extent to which the debate is instrumentally informing policy makers to enable them to develop effective recruitment and training policies remains unclear. The thesis aims to address this gap, as current literature does not clearly reveal the extent to which private sector policy makers are aware of the debate or even paying attention to the debate when developing their polices.
Though, the skills shortage debate cuts across various sectors, information and communications technology (ICT) positions were chosen as the focus of the study because the debate is prevalent in the sector.
The case study research design is applied to reveal policy makers’ perceptions on the topic. 20 interviews with private sector human resources management executives and documentary evidence were used for triangulation purposes. The thesis relies on human capital theory and institutional theory, amongst others, to enhance understanding of the labour market processes and explain the relationship between the skills shortages debate and private sector recruitment and training policies in the two countries. The theories facilitate conceptualisation of the causes of skills shortages in the labour markets.
The main finding of the study is that the skills shortage debate is not directly influencing recruitment and training policies in the private sector. The skills deficit debate was not instrumentally informing policy makers in the private sector because there are barriers that are deterring the knowledge transfer between industry and academia. There was limited interaction between academia and industry which deterred the debate from influencing policies. Private sector executives were not paying attention to academic research because of lack of confidence in the education system and in some instances, a perception that institutions of higher learning were slow at adapting to the evolving changes. The findings in Harare and Montreal showed that the policy formulation process was influenced by other multiple external and internal contextual factors confronting the organisations. The skills gap debate was not among the everyday realities.



Réka Plugor; Martí López-Andreu

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School of Business

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University of Leicester

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