02 February 2011

Interesting article on workforce skills and innovation

The OECD has released an excellent overview of major themes relevant to workforce training and innovation.

This is one of the best papers I have read in a long while that articulates what we refer to as innovation literacy and the role of instilling this in our graduates, as well as the potential downstream effect on the economy of graduates so trained. Many topics of high relevance are touched on: the evolution of academic programming to meet labour market needs; the importance of training innovation-related competencies and what we in Ontario call essential employability skills; the role of innovation intermediaries in the overall economy - by this I mean our role in helping our industry partners to innovate, as well as the intermediary role that our graduates with innovation experience play in their future occupations; and the role of high performing organizations and the supports required to enable firms to innovate. There is very useful data on the relative percentage of types of R&D performed versus innovation in the economy (the bulk of business innovation is Development, not Research), and strong evidence cited to support the fact that the majority of innovation conducted is incremental, and is best enabled by innovation intermediaries - people with intermediate skills. A participatory, people-centred, open innovation is clearly enabled by education that supports the acquisition of advanced skills, education and training alongside those skills we include in innovation literacy. These data also show that firms that train and promote education of their work forces have clear competitive advantages.

This is well worth the read for anyone in the innovation system - firms, post-secondary institutions, and governments alike.

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