Research and analysis

Global value chains and the future of high skills: evidence from Singapore and implications for the UK

This briefing paper offers an analysis of the impact transnational companies and global value chains may have on the future of the labour market.


This briefing extends the analysis of a previous UKCES Praxis report: Skills Are Not Enough, which looked at the role of transnational companies (TNCs) have in shaping the future of global competition, and focuses on corporate global value chains (GVCs) and their impact on skills and labour market.

The UK has confronted increasing global competition for strategic inward investment and skilled employment. A response has been to upgrade the employability skills of the workforce to compete on ‘quality’ rather than ‘cost’. However, the authors note, as emerging economies including China and India have entered the competition for high skilled work, drawing on a significant cost advantage alongside an expanding supply of highly qualified workers, this response needs to be rethought.

This briefing considers the impact of that companies that have the capacity to integrate webs of high skilled labour across global operations and considers the challenge faced by the UK and other developed nations of how to compete without relying on the upgrading of skills. It also demonstrates that the UK is not alone in confronting significant challenges to existing models of skill formation.