Lifelong Learning in Europe (LLinE) vol:17 issue:4 pages:1-20
The EU is striving for an ‘Innovative Union’. Various case studies already hinted that the involvement of various types of employees is crucial for the organisational innovativeness. Using data from a large scale Belgian employee level survey in five industries, this article focuses on the question how ‘mainstream’ innovation is in Belgian firms and how this coincides with forms of workplace learning. Innovation mainstreaming here refers to the inclusion of various occupational groups in the innovation process. Findings suggest that innovation in most sectors, is an ‘elite driven’ process with only a limited involvement of lower level employees. Moreover, genuine employee-driven innovations are a rarity. Nevertheless, the research also finds that workplace learning (job training and in-work learning opportunities) are potentially strong levers for employee innovation for all types of employees. Specifically providing in-work learning opportunities to technical workers could make innovation more mainstream in Europe.