Since the industrial revolution, society has created boundless excuses for what “takes” our jobs, seeking an exterior source of unemployment. Is it the proliferation of outsourcing? Is it technology’s double-edged sword that allows for new technological devices to replace the human hand or even worse, the mind? Unaware of the irrelevance of these sources, we often seek extraneous reasons for the causes of the general decline in employment. Perhaps these catalysts for the changing economy are in fact motivators for new careers. As discussed in lecture with the example of outsourcing, it is not directly the act of outsourcing that cost the United States to loose many jobs, it is in the ability of people to make them a valuable part of this new economy. The economy is changing, the markets are dynamic and unstable and it is in our people to recognize this and adjust their skills. Today, many skills people have are not applicable to the jobs that are currently out there. It is in the workforce to realign themselves according to the changes of the economy and technology and to veer away from stagnating in efforts to persevere in this ever-changing work place.
In Thomas Friedman’s NY Times Article, Need a Job? Invent it, he discusses this pertinent issue, naming education as a base for what must change in order to adjust to today’s economy. “What you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know.” The article discussed how realignment in education must occur. Tony Wagner diminishes the value in academic knowledge and instead stresses the importance of the “capacity to innovate”… He desires a student that is no longer “college ready” but instead “innovation ready”. In past generations it was simpler for people to find traditional jobs as they were laid out for them and pre-destined. More and more Wagner mentions how it is now in our generation’s hands to acclimatize to the lack of traditional jobs and begin to invent new ones. With the accessibility to new and cheap technologies, this task is now easier than ever. In an effort to adjust to this change, Wagner believes that schools must shift their educational focus towards stimulation of curiosity, persistence and motivation. According to Wagner, Instead of mastering particular subjects, students should master particular skill sets like critical thinking and communication. A transformation of the education system, Wagner believes, will help to encourage students to have more innovative minds and thus create new and innovative careers.
Today may be considered a dangerous time for job seekers as the market has become more and more competitive due to the many different avenues making traditional careers obsolete. However, instead of calling it dangerous it may be more appropriate to call it inspiring or exhilarating. For the first time the individual is left with more power than ever to create what could be the next jobs of their generation. In response to Wagner, I do agree that a shift in education may need to occur to more appropriately address the dynamic economy and job seeking market. However, I think he is slightly over-looking the value of traditional education. It would be dangerous to shift education strictly in a vocational direction because the importance of a more liberal education is timeless. History and knowledge of politics, literature and proficiency in the spoken word, science and understanding of the human body are all indisputably important aspects of education. The ever-changing economy calls for a change in the mentality of our work force, no longer can we blame exterior forces for the decline in employment, instead we must recognize the ability of each individual to spark changes in what could be the next generation of jobs. Although education must concur with this changing economy, it is necessary to make sure that society does not loose site of the values of traditional education while still modifying schools to become more innovative.