By Phillip Toner

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Extra resources for Workforce Skills and Innovation: An Overview of Major Themes in the Literature (OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers)

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However, the same differential also applied to use of other office tools such as pencils, calculators and even sitting in a chair. The interpretation of this unusual result is that firstly, computer use is not random but occupationally specific and that there is some degree of ‘selection’ in who is employed to use computers, and secondly, use of computers, and indeed office equipment, may be a proxy for some other, unspecified skill, whose return has increased during the period (DiNardo and Pischke 1997: 301-302).

This applies both to the consumption of new technologies, for example in the home, and in production. More educated and skilled workers are argued to have greater ‘functional flexibility’ in that their greater stock of knowledge increases the rate at which they learn and develop higher order problem solving skills. This greater functional flexibility is also argued to be important for innovation at a macro-economic level, as more educated persons are better able to cope with rapid structural change induced, for example, by international trade or innovation.

The purpose of this section is to very briefly describe the factors that influence firstly, differences across advanced economies in the proportion of the workforce with higher level VET qualifications and skills and, secondly, the extent of the involvement of the VET workforce in innovation. 26 The literature on the institutional foundations of national skill formation regimes identifies three broad types of intermediate skills formation systems; ‘occupational’, ‘internal’ and ‘flexible’. In summary, the literature suggests that national intermediate training systems are the product of a complex historical process which create ‘institutional complementarities’.

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Workforce Skills and Innovation: An Overview of Major Themes in the Literature (OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers) by Phillip Toner


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