The New Skills Revolution

As usual, Peter Drucker was on the case before anyone else. In the late 1960s he coined the term knowledge economy, predicting that the spread of information would cause major changes in society. Knowledge – the right kind of knowledge – adds value. Knowledge is becoming a strategic issue – how to acquire it, develop it, share it and keep it.  (from “50 Management Ideas You Really Need to Know“)

As we define new curriculums for the SAAS School of the Future, our teachers integrate the kind of skills and dispositions that help each student create “the right kind of knowledge”.  Students learn to search for information, evaluate information, analyze and create new knowledge in various formats including multimedia and new media. The traditional research paper becomes increasingly challenging as avalanches of information deluge students and new technology tools beckon us to accomplish these tasks more efficiently.  If that weren’t enough,  we are also challenged to integrate rhetoric, collaboration and blended learning into the mix.  But here’s why it may all be worth it:

From David Brook’s column “The Cognitive Age,”  New York Times, May 2, 2008  (quoted in Blue Skunk Blog, Doug Johnson, Librarian)

The chief force reshaping manufacturing is technological change (hastened by competition with other companies in Canada, Germany or down the street). Thanks to innovation, manufacturingRobotichand.jpg productivity has doubled over two decades. Employers now require fewer but more highly skilled workers. Technological change affects China just as it does the America. William Overholt of the RAND Corporation has noted that between 1994 and 2004 the Chinese shed 25 million manufacturing jobs, 10 times more than the U.S.

The central process driving this is not globalization. It’s the skills revolution. We’re moving into a more demanding cognitive age. In order to thrive, people are compelled to become better at absorbing, processing and combining information. This is happening in localized and globalized sectors, and it would be happening even if you tore up every free trade deal ever inked.


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