People are at the heart of the innovation process. They generate the ideas and knowledge that power innovation, and then apply this knowledge and the resulting technologies, products and services in the workplace and throughout society. Empowering people to innovate relies not only on broad and relevant formal education, but also on the development of wide-ranging skills, and on providing people with opportunities to use and leverage these skills throughout the economy and society.
Globalization also affects the skill requirements on the labor market. As production becomes increasingly globalized, societies cannot sustain a model in which innovation is driven by a small trained elite and supported by a large body of relatively low skilled production workers. Instead, all workers must have the skills to adapt, to engage with innovation, modify their tasks or change jobs. Such skills may be best achieved through a generalist education and on-the-job training. Because globalization leads to greater collaboration, firms also need good skills for forming trust-based relationships.
“Brain circulation” can stimulate knowledge transfer to sending countries. Returning professionals make the knowledge they have acquired available to their home country and maintain networks abroad which facilitate continuing knowledge exchange. To make the most of brain circulation, hte home country needs to have sufficient absorptive capacity and returning migrants need to be able to re-enter local labor markets at a level that is appropriate for their skills and knowledge.