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Product strategies, skills shortages and skills updating needs in England: New evidence from the National Employer Skills Survey, 2009

The aim of this study is to examine whether there is a relationship between the type of product strategy adopted by an employer and the extent of the skills they require, and the skills challenges they face. It uses data from the Employer Skills Surveys carried out in England in 2001 and 2009 to examine the nature of the relationships, and also investigate the extent to which patterns available in 2001 were still present in 2009. It builds on previous analysis carried out by Mason (2004) on the 2001 Employer Skills Survey. This report provides evidence that establishments pursuing high value-added product market strategies are more likely to have higher workforce skill levels than their counterparts with medium or lower value-added product market strategies. In addition, these establishments are more likely to be actively looking to update the skill levels of their staff and less likely to have skill gaps, perhaps as a result of their pre-emptive action to address problems before they arise. The relationships identified are interdependent. This reinforces the message in literature on resource and knowledge-based theories of the firm, which suggests that business strategies and firm-level resources tend to evolve together over time.