PhD-educated employees and skill development: Evidence from PhD graduates

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Australian Bulletin of Labour


National Institute of Labour Studies Incorporated

Place of Publication



School of Business and Law




Jackson, D., & Michelson, G. (2016). PhD-education employees and the development of generic skills. Australian Bulletin of Labour, 42(1), 110-138.


While considerable research on skills and training exists, less is known about employee perceptions of their skill development. This issue is particularly salient among the most highly educated members of the labour market, given the duration of their training. This study draws on survey data of almost four thousand PhD graduates in Australia. We explore perceived skill development and the importance of these skills among PhD graduates, and the factors that influence these perceptions. The findings reveal a number of factors that explain skill development and skill importance including age, gender, and career destination (for example higher education or industry). Perceived skill importance also depends on discipline area, organisation size, occupation, and sector. We conclude that the most highly educated members of the labour market do not always consider that they obtain the requisite skills during their PhD training; greater attention is needed to ensure that skills are better matched to career decisions and to the demands of the high-level professions.

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