Employment, skills and tripartite relations : the evolution of skill development systems in Japan and Singapore
The study addresses the historical processes by which interactions between the state, business and labour influence the evolution of skill development systems. Such systems consists not only of education and training providers, but also of employment practices, the wage structure and the articulation of qualifications in the labour market, which form the broad incentive mechanism for individuals and firms to train. Individuals and firms responding to formal, and informal, rules and incentives create a generalised pattern of training behaviour, which provides the distinctive character of each skills system. The study argues that relations and interactions between the state, business and labour have a major influence on shaping the rules and incentives, which are referred to here as institutions. The study demonstrates that a skills development system is an historical product, reflecting the evolution of power relations, contested interests and economic and social changes. While the system is often influenced by changing skill demands stemming from economic, political and technological challenges, it is also shaped by how the stakeholders respond to these challenges by creating or changing the institutions that make up the system. An analysis of the evolution of the skill development systems in Japan and Singapore demonstrates the influence of these types of historical processes. While the dominant theoretical perspective used in analysing skill systems in East Asia emphasises the instrumental role of the state, the analysis of Japan and Singapore highlighted considerable differences in the state's role. The study acknowledges the usefulness of the developmental state perspective, but finds that viewing the skills system through the lens of tripartite interactions revealed the influence played by nonstate forces -in particular in the case of Japan but to some extent also in Singaporewhich have not been sufficiently accounted for previously. The skill development system in each country reflects unique accumulation of historical conflicts, compromises and agreements between the stakeholders. Therefore, this explains the different systems in Japan and Singapore.