Skill obsolescence is the ‘degree to which professionals lack the up-to-date knowledge or skills necessary to maintain effective performance in their current or future work roles’ (Kaufman, 1974). There are two main types of skill obsolescence:

  • Physical skill obsolescence: physical or cognitive skills and abilities deteriorate due to atrophy or wear and tear;
  • Economic skill obsolescence: skills previously utilised in a job are no longer required or have diminished in importance.

Other types include organisational forgetting (loss of firmspecific skills due to worker turnover) and perspectivistic obsolescence (outdated views and beliefs on work and the work environment).