by Petr Hanel.
This review of the innovation literature seeks to identify the role of skilled labour in the process of innovation and technological change. After an introduction of main innovation theories, the role of skills is analyzed from several perspectives: (1) Independent innovator – entrepreneur; skills deployed and needed; the role of education (2) Firm – the contribution of skilled labour to innovation from within the firm and from external sources. (3) Regional systems of innovation – Endowment of regions and cities in human resources, regional/local labour markets and knowledge spillovers (4) National systems of Innovation – national institutions and policies regarding human resources, labour markets, education system and various aspects of economic and technological infrastructure. (5) Technological milieu – skilled labour involved in innovation evolves in various environments such as scientific, technical and trade associations, formal and informal contacts. (6) Scientific base – The role of industry-university and public-private research collaboration in innovation. (7) Is innovation skill-biased?
The second part of the study looks at findings of recent studies of innovation and technology adoption in Canadian manufacturing and services with regard to skilled labour. Also addressed is the impact of innovation on skills. The shortage of skilled labour is widely recognized as an obstacle to innovation and adoption new technologies, especially by firms that introduce the most original innovations and the most advanced technologies.
Overall, the innovation literature offers little in terms of concrete general information on particular skills needed for successful innovation. The paper concludes with a critical assessment of shortcomings of innovation and related surveys with regard to information on skilled labour and its role in innovation and technology adoption.