Major technological innovations are not sufficient to enable socio-economic progress without governments creating the institutional framework – in particular via education, welfare and training programs - required for the absorption of the new technical possibilities these innovations create. To support this claim, we provide a comparative historical view of how four different countries tackled the challenge of adapting to three successive technological revolutions, with varying degrees of success. We look at the relationship between the welfare, education and training policies implemented by the governments of the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, and Sweden and their socio-economic results. The historical period studied spans from 1830 to 1970. This, according to the neo-Schumpeterian view we follow, covers the second, third and fourth technological revolutions, namely, the Age of Iron, Coal, and Railways, the Age of Steel and Heavy Engineering, and the Age of the Automobile and Mass Production; the current Age of Information and Telecommunications being the fifth.