Assessing the relative importance of cognitive and non-cognitive worker skills for firms in South Africa

The project is currently being implemented.

Research question

Do firms value information about workseekers’ skill? Which skills do firms value most?

Research summary and methodology

Workers’ skills are among the main determinants of firm productivity, particularly in low-income countries with a labour-intensive production process. However, there is very limited information on the value that employers place on cognitive skills vis-à-vis non-cognitive skills. The authors will quantify the value that employers place on various skill bundles of young entry-level work-seekers, specifically separating cognitive and non-cognitive abilities. To address this research question the authors will constructed a dataset containing detailed measures of workseekers’ cognitive and non-cognitive skills for a sample of young South Africans. They will then use a Becker-DeGrot-Marshak mechanism to measure firms’ willingness-to-pay to gain access to the database of pre-screened work-seekers. By focusing on firm search and hiring behaviour will yield important insights into firm-level preferences and constraints around finding workers, with important implications for employability of the unemployed.

Collaborating Researchers

Eliana Carranza, Rob Garlick, Laura Poswell, Neil Rankin, Laurel Beth Wheeler