Whether we like it or not, the knowledge economy is real and millennials need to grasp this sooner rather than later.
The future of manual labour inevitably lies in the clutches of robots and many menial tasks requiring less cognitive thinking will be transitioned into a machine based labour force. Now, whilst this will see increasing areas of unemployment amongst certain skill sets, whether we like it or not, the “internet of things” is going to continue to create an economy in which growth is dependent on the quantity, quality, and accessibility of the information available, rather than the means of production.
Governments around the world believe that to remain competitive in a global economy they must become smarter. Now whilst this may not be of benefit to everyone, this is indeed true. We only need look at where the future of our economy is headed, out with manual and in with virtual. Those who wish to stay ahead, realise this reality and embrace it.
The stark mismatch between the number of people with degrees and the number of jobs requiring degrees has created a generation of bored employees who feel like they are working “bullsh*t jobs”. It’s no surprise 37% of UK employees think their jobs make no meaningful contribution to the world at all. As people with degree-level education take lower-skilled jobs, the less educated are pushed further down the labour market. In some cases they are pushed out altogether.
This has seen a case rise up against the existence of the knowledge economy, when in fact the “bullsh*t jobs” are as such because they add no value to where the future of our economy lies, i.e: they are not ‘knowledge economy’ friendly career paths! Unemployment does not discount the existence of a new economy focused on knowledge rather than physical application.
The fact is, a knowledge economy just doesn’t suit the majority, for us humans it is a niche area of skills and expertise that need to be exploited in order to succeed and maybe not always the most exciting of subject matters that one must endure. This does not mean opportunity isn’t out there to be seized. Within the tech sector for example there is a huge skills shortage of talent. In a 2016 survey by indeed.com, 53% of tech company hiring managers admitted to hiring candidates who did not meet the job description minimum requirements!
This dystopian future that may well lie in store for us, in which a select group of highly skilled individuals flourish and the masses are left behind, well, it really isn’t that hard to believe and visualise. The knowledge economy is brutal and unforgiving. As millennials become more and more fussy about the jobs they are willing to take and the work they are willing to do and those less fortunate who cannot afford to educate and position themselves in line with the tech favouring future job market, those who rise to the top will inevitably be those who put the needs of the knowledge economy before their own preferences. Job descriptions over time will become more and more prescriptive, in a world dictated by code, there is little room for fluff.
Companies are more and more supportive of their employee’s personal needs which will only continue to improve further over time, after all people are still human and must be treated as such. This is where coaching (for example) comes into the picture, bolstering the critical side of what gives us our edge over machines, our minds. In parallel with this, it will be those individuals who commit to hard innovation and the digitalisation of work that will thrive, even if all they really want to do is sit about watching reruns of Love Island and genuinely believe they should be getting paid for the pleasure of doing so.
A fabulous quote to close, from the great Peter Drucker, “Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves – their strengths, their values, and how they best perform.”
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