Introduction [Audio & Print]

Updated: May 22, 2020

This is not another article about intelligent technologies eliminating Jobs …

What schools teach and how they perceive learning will impact your child’s ability to succeed.
Policy will impact your child’s ability to succeed...

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There is a good chance that you have read, listened to, or viewed a piece about how digital driven business models will eliminate some jobs and create a demand for other jobs. Unfortunately, this narrow perspective held by many policy makers is hindering the readiness of youth for the innovation economy. What a nation’s schools teach and how they perceive learning will impact a child’s ability to succeed, as well as a nation's ability to compete globally. Spoiler alert .. the solution is not as simple as training more engineers, raising the number of creative designers and producing more data analysts.

The answer is to understand how workforce roles will change. We must uncover the core skills required to be successful in evolving roles across the economy and how to build and grow these skills from elementary school up to the workforce as lifelong learning. We should not fall into the trap of viewing this new dynamic from the perspective of individual professions. An increase in our dependence on technologies does not directly correlate to a need to produce more engineers with the existing skill set of past engineers.

I am looking forward to sharing my research into this topic, and how Kids Hack Labs is adapting to be a catalyst in preparing youth for the Innovation Economy. This will be a three part series, as well as a place to share publications by innovative thought leaders in the worlds of technology, economy and the future.

Move over knowledge workers …


“We still talk about a knowledge economy, but the reality is that the world is moving beyond it. What we have now is an innovation economy. Knowledge has been commoditized. There is no longer a competitive advantage in simply knowing more than other people, because Google knows everything. What the world cares about is not how much you know, but what you can do with it.”

Tony Wagner, Senior Research Fellow, Learning Policy Institute.

There are a variety of terms being used to describe the approaching economic shift and how to describe what will be the predominant role classification of those participating in the new economy. The labels may vary but there is building consensus on:

  • the driving forces that will shape the new economy

  • the core skills required to thrive in the new economy

  • how to teach, prepare and continually empower people entering the new economy

I am not an expert on the stages of the economy but I don’t believe they are stagnant labels on a timeline. The economy is ever-evolving and impactful changes often go unnoticed until they hit a breaking point. We need to understand yesterday, today and tomorrow. The transition to the new economy has started. If your child is in grade 8, they will retire in 2062, a radically different world than today’s. We need to prepare youth for their initiation into the workforce as well as establish the foundation for lifelong learning. These tactics are essential as the economy evolves during their academic journey and their time in the workforce.

For this blog post and future blog posts I will refer to the new economy at the innovation economy and those participating in the innovation economy as learning workers. From all the labels I have read, these labels resonate the most for me and I expect they will for you as you read this, and future posts. The labels also provide context for the changes already underway in the role of workers over the last decade as they transition to the learning worker from the knowledge worker.

A workers knowledge has become less valued, and in turn, their ability to dialogue, be creative and execute on their knowledge has increased in value.
A workers knowledge has become less valued...

Before proceeding to part of 1 of this series (The driving forces that will shape the Innovation Economy), discussing the driving forces shaping the innovation economy, keep this example in mind: In a study by Accenture, the role of the maintenance engineer in the maintenance of technical equipment has noticeably changed between 2008 and 2017. The role did not become redundant but the expectations and skills required evolved. Those in their role in 2008, calibrated equipment multiple times a week. The core skill was their knowledge of the machine. In 2017 because of innovation, automation and simplification of maintenance, those in this role now calibrate equipment twice a month with a majority of their time now spent collaborating with colleagues around optimization, planning and implementing complex equipment. Their knowledge has become less valued, and in turn, their ability to dialogue, be creative and execute on their knowledge has increased in value.

I hope you enjoy reading Part 1: The driving forces that will shape the Innovation Economy