European competitiveness in a global perspective is a major issue on the agenda of the European Union and European industry. The question of competitiveness is often re lated to continual technological change and changing work structures to create more flexible and adaptive work places. But these changes are in themselves insufficient to meet the demands of a turbulent business environment, if they are not brought about in close relationship with and anchored to the development of the human resource poten tial. Technological innovation and modern post-Tayloristic work structures place new demands on workers. Workers' abilities and competencies must be raised in virtually every sphere - in what are termed the new key/core competencies related to knowl edge and cognitive skills, social skills, general and work related personality character istics together with a high level of technological ability. At the same time, to make optimal use of the human potential, the way in which work is organised and accord ingly the way in which people are managed, must allow workers to develop and use the required competencies. An integrated Human Resource Development approach is needed in which workers abilities and competencies take a central place. European competitiveness, from this perspective, implies a strategic choice by European compa nies and policy makers to invest in people and their (potential) abilities.