Heterogeneity of Skill Needs and Job Complexity: Evidence from the OECD PIAAC Survey

37 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2015

See all articles by Konstantinos Pouliakas

Konstantinos Pouliakas

University of Aberdeen - Business School; Cedefop; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Giovanni Russo

VU University Amsterdam; IZA Institute of Labor Economics


We use information from the new OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) to investigate the link between job tasks and cognitive skill demand in 22 advanced economies. Skill demand is operationalized by the assessed literacy and numeracy skills of workers with well-matched skills to their job duties. Jobs are categorised according to the nature of tasks, including the intensity of abstract reasoning, employee latitude, interactivity or manual work. The analysis confirms the significant relation between task complexity and higher skill needs. The significant relation holds independently of the endogenous supply of formal human capital, occupational or industrial structure and other job or individual characteristics.The results confirm the (indirect) mapping between tasks and skills as predicted by the task approach to labour economics. Given the marked heterogeneity in workplace practices adopted by employers, it is clear that enterprise level workplace development policies are warranted as enablers of skills matching and higher labour productivity.

Keywords: skills, tasks, skill demand, job complexity, PIAAC, mismatch

JEL Classification: J24, M12, M54

Suggested Citation

Pouliakas, Konstantinos and Pouliakas, Konstantinos and Russo, Giovanni, Heterogeneity of Skill Needs and Job Complexity: Evidence from the OECD PIAAC Survey. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2672178 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2672178

Konstantinos Pouliakas (Contact Author)

Cedefop ( email )

PO Box 22427
Finikas (Thessaloniki), 55102

University of Aberdeen - Business School ( email )

Edward Wright Building
Dunbar Street
Aberdeen, Scotland AB24 3QY
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Giovanni Russo

VU University Amsterdam ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, ND North Holland 1081 HV

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

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