Employability, skills mismatch and spatial mismatch in metropolitan labour markets

Donald Houston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The skills mismatch and spatial mismatch perspectives are often presented as competing explanations of the spatial distribution of unemployment within metropolitan areas. This paper argues that the spatial mismatch hypothesis addresses some of the shortcomings of the skills mismatch perspective, while not denying the importance of skills mismatch. The development of the spatial mismatch hypothesis in the US is traced, before considering its relevance in the British context. A framework in which to conceptualise and reconcile skills mismatch and spatial mismatch within metropolitan areas is developed, incorporating the operation of local housing and labour markets as well as the role of commuting. The paper concludes by arguing that skills and spatial mismatches reinforce each other and that the concept of employability offers some potential to help understand how job searchers and employers make decisions in situations of skills and/or spatial mismatch. The implications for future research are highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-243
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


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