We all know that we've entered a new economy. The Great Recession of 2008/2009 has been renamed The Great Restructuring, and we're all starting to feel the effects. With the demise of the Industrial Age, our economic systems, business practices, and social structures are absorbing the realities of the Information Age. The western world's economy has shifted from producing goods with our hands to producing goods with our minds.
Where does that leave the United States? Like the European Union, our manufacturing base has given way to an increasing need for engineers, scientists, and service industry professionals. Theo Eicher, professor and director at the UW Economic Policy Research Center, succinctly put it that our economy has shifted that from manufacturing to mentis-facturing. That means that we have changed from the bulk of our economy being produced by mechanical means (by hand, or "manu-") to being produced by our intellects ("mentis" or mind).
It is estimated that by 2016, currently "developing" nations will output 2/3 of all goods and the U.S. and the E.U. will produce only 1/3 of goods. That's in strong contrast of where we were in 2000. By 2016, more than 66% of our jobs will in service or innovation industries and will rely on creative, innovative thinking to be productive and competitive.
Yet, if you look at our citizens, we are below average in math and science literacy. And only roughly 30% get a college degree. That means in the new economy, many in our society will slide to lower middle class as the wage gap between college-educated and high school graduates increases. The ones who do not graduate from high school will be completely disenfranchised as un- and low-skilled job opportunities shrink.
We could conceivably see an unemployment rate in this country that surpasses 20%. But there is a way to change this outcome. In order to compete, we need to focus on getting smarter. Doctorate degrees are not required, but we will need more high school graduates, better prepared to take on jobs that don't even exist today.
How do you propose that we prepare for an increase in information-based jobs? I have my own ideas, which I will share on 4/27. In that post, I will discuss the requirements for making the shift from Manufacturing to Mentis-facturing, or a Mind-Driven Economy.
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