The project is investigating the skill strategies of multinational companies (MNCs) (in seven countries – Britain, China, Germany, India, Singapore, South Korea and the United States) in a context of increasing global economic integration and examining the extent to which leading MNCs from different business sectors are developing global skill formation strategies. This should help improve the evidence base on which skill formation strategies and policies in the United Kingdom are developed.
In what ways do MNCs link issues of skill and skill formation in relation to their competition strategies? Factors such as the company's product market strategy, the national institutional context and nature of corporate governance are all likely to play a role, but what is the impact of MNC skill strategies on the localities and countries within which they operate? Is a convergence developing between MNCs in their use of skill strategies based around new forms of flexible production that can be transferred to other business locations as the strategies are independent of specific persons, roles or firms?
Another key question is to what extent do MNCs use national Education and Training systems as a source of comparative advantage? It has been suggested that MNCs may consider the level and nature of a country's skill base as an important factor when they make decisions about where to invest their higher value-added business. This has also been a common assumption in policy debates (i.e. DfES; Euroepan Union; OECD). However, there is little hard evidence on which to base such assumptions. The study seeks to identify the part played by workforce development policies in attracting MNCs and how state and regional policies can encourage inward investment and skills upgrading within existing MNCs.