When you get a chance, I want you to read this excellent essay about the future of America’s workforce from economist Philip Auerswald over at GOOD. There are so many important insights in it you won’t want to miss it.
Of note, this bit about how the next wave of rank-n-file workers in the New Economy will be anything but rank-n-file…
Precisely what talents are missing in the labor force—why are they important, and why are they suddenly in short supply? Are employers looking for blue-collar workers, or white-collar workers? Neither. Lacking any other term (and inspired Steve Jobs’ black turtleneck) I’m going to call them “black-collar” workers.
Black-collar workers are the factory workers of the present day. They’re wearing spotless lab-coats, not grimy overalls. Instead of leaning over an assembly line, they are programming multi-million dollar manufacturing machines. Black collar workers are also leading the farm-to-table movement that is transforming how people in the US and around the world produce, prepare, and consume their food. These are not yokels selling heads of cabbage by the side of the road; these Pinot-sipping pioneers of the plow are savvy businesspeople, PhD scientists, and downtown restaurateurs.
Black-collar workers are easy to find. They crowd coffee houses with their laptops. They create prototypes of their inventions on 3-D printers at San Francisco’s TechShop, raise money for their projects on Kickstarter, and share their creations at Maker Faire events around the country. They are the work force of the future, powering change in the present.
Black-collar workers are after purpose, not pensions. They’re not seeking lifetime employment; they’re seeking lifetime learning. They don’t have secretaries or bosses; they have teammates. They don’t punch in at 9, and they don’t time out at 5. They connect, create, contribute, and collaborate whenever and wherever it makes sense. They try to minimize their spending in order to maximize their flexibility.
Great stuff. This is what you want to get your mind ready for.