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This paper highlights the key trends that are reshaping economic competition and the global division of labour. It argues that an increased supply of skills is not enough on its own to secure the UK’s position at the high value end of production or to sustain its competitive advantage. How important is knowledge intensive activity and productivity to what happens after skills acquisition takes place? Will the way companies use and manage their workforce, and the kind of working practices they adopt, be a decisive factor for their competitiveness? The authors argue that recent developments in emerging economies have demonstrated that ‘high-tech’ economic development does not necessarily need to go hand in hand with radical changes in the country’s underlying social structures. Therefore ‘path dependency’ is less important than assumed and companies move up the value chain because they are willing to ‘raise their game’ not because of institutional change. If This is the case, what are the drivers for companies to move into new product markets and knowledge-intensive activity? Is there a need for a policy shift in this area and If so, what would this look like? What policy levers are available to encourage employers to ‘raise their game’?