University of Bath

The global auction for high skilled work: implications for economic policy

An IPR Policy Brief challenging the global knowledge economy and the assumption there is a straightforward relationship between learning and earning.

It is commonly assumed that in the global knowledge economy there is a straightforward relationship between learning and earning. The key finding of this research challenges this assumption. In contrast, it argues we have entered a global cut-price competition for brainpower. At the same time that some occupational elites have been able to use their market power to hike-up their salaries, many university graduates in Britain and the US, confront a reverse or Dutch auction in which they will be competing with much cheaper graduates in countries like India and China.

The research focussed on the skill strategies of multinational companies and national policymakers in seven countries (South Korea, China, Singapore, India, Germany, the USA and the UK). It involved interviewing executives from multinational corporations in the automotive, banking, electronics and IT sectors.