Goodbye Knowledge Worker, Welcome Learning Worker
Imagine a work world where you are not hired because of what you know but rather on your capability to learn new things. This is the shift from knowledge worker to learning worker. Why currently your CV is focused on your experiences you gained rather than on your capabilities on for example quickly adapting and learning new skills? How relevant are the skills in your job today, you learned 10 years ago? The 4th industrial revolution requires us to rethink our skill sets. It is time to say goodbye to the knowledge worker and welcome to the learning worker!
Goodbye Knowledge Worker
Not long ago, most companies employed two different types of worker: knowledge and manual workers. Knowledge workers are placed in offices and manual workers in factories. Today, knowledge has become a commodity due to the access to internet and technology.
Peter Drucker is considered to be among the first who explained the concept of Knowledge Worker in his book Landmarks of Tomorrow from 1959. He suggested that the most valuable asset of a 21-century institution will be knowledge and their productivity. Drucker was very right with his prediction in times before the internet or smartphones. However, only 18 years into the 21st century, the concept of the knowledge worker is obsolete. The era of the learning worker has started.
Welcome Learning Workers
The critical new skills is the ability to learn quickly and continuously. Those are the learning workers. They have the capacity of learning new things on the run, adapting new knowledge and insights to evolving situations and new opportunities. This makes workers more valuable to their organization because they adapt readily to a changing workplace and support creativity and innovation.
The World Economic Forum during its 2018 annual meeting in Davos, talked at length about the impact of artificial intelligence and robotics on the modern workplace and needed skill sets of workers. While there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of work, a key challenge remains that only few economies currently have robust reskilling mechanisms in place. Learning is mainly focused on child learning rather than looking at adult learning.
Transitioning from a knowledge worker to a learning worker can be difficult, especially because our working society has ingrained a certain process in us for so long. But new generations, like Generation Z, are entering the workforce now, with their unique skill sets and offerings. They are used to receiving a lot of information fast and are expecting this from their work environment as well.
Continuous learning, creativity and efficiency are key skills required from the future workforce. All of them define the learning workers. It is time to adopt the way we educate and think about work to the real requirements of the future work force.